Medical examiner arrested for keeping body parts in storage unit

Dr. Michael Berkland  
By: Moses Gold 

(Scroll down for video) After a purchaser of a auctioned off storage unit found stored body parts inside, a medical examiner has been arrested on charges of keeping human remains in a storage unit he rented in the Florida Panhandle.

Dr. Michael Berkland, 57, was arrested on charges of improper storage of hazardous waste, maintaining a public nuisance and driving with a suspended license. He was released from jail on $10,000 bond.

Berkland’s lawyer, Eric Stevenson, told the local newspaper that he and Berkland will start preparing a defense next week. State Attorney Bill Eddins said more charges may be filed.

Crudely preserved brains, hearts, lungs, other organs and specimens were discovered in more than 100 containers in a storage unit Berkland rented in Pensacola.

He had rented the unit for about three years. The unit was auctioned after Berkland breached its payment terms, according to an arrest warrant.

Berkland had declared that the content is household goods, furniture, boxes, sporting goods and gardening equipment. A man who bought the contents of the unit discovered human organs after being dominated by a strange smell, while sifting through the items, authorities said.

Ten cartons stacked in a corner of the unit contained "numerous individual containers with human remains stored in a liquid substance," according to the affidavit.

Most containers were marked. About half of the containers were medical grade and the other half were stored in soda cups and plastic food containers, according to the affidavit.

The organs were stored in a liquid solution containing formaldehyde and methyl alcohol, authorities said.

"The remains include samples of tissues and dissected organs. Detectives also reported that it had numerous complete organs, including a heart, brain, liver and lung," according to the affidavit.

Improper storage of hazardous waste carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and maintaining a public nuisance, a misdemeanor, can mean a jail term of 60 days, according to the state attorney's office.

Storage unit found full of body parts