PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - A former medical examiner faces possible prison time after being arrested for storing human organs — some in Styrofoam cups and trash bags — inside a storage unit in Pensacola.
Dr. Michael Berkland was arrested on Friday and has since been released on $10,000 bond.
State Attorney Bill Eddins said, "I do not believe there's ever been a case of this nature that occurred in Florida."
Authorities say a man paid $900 for the storage unit, which appeared to be filled with furniture in August.
However, when he searched it, he found much more.
Behind the furniture were boxes of body parts: lungs, brains, and tissue samples from more than 100 people, according to law enforcement.
Berkland had previously been renting the unit. Friday, the state attorney's office arrested him for improper storage of hazardous waste, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
No one was at Berkland's home to comment on this story and his attorney has yet to respond to requests.
A former neighbor, Michelle Ngo, said, "He was kind, he was nice. Didn't think anything was wrong with him…it's creepy, I think it's just creepy."
The organs and body parts are now in the care of the Medical Examiner's office. The state attorney says officials are tracking down the families connected to those body parts.
Eddins said, "If they did know those body parts were being kept, they may want to reunite those parts, the brains or other parts, with their loved one."
Eddins said Berkland will have an arraignment sometime in the next couple of weeks but that it could be months before the case goes to trial.
He added that more charges could be filed.
"Once we have identified those families, we want to check with them to see if they can verify whether or not they had given consent to Mr. Berkland to take those items, if they did not then we will investigate and evaluate whether or not a crime has occurred," said Eddins.
The State Attorney said Berkland most recently worked as an expert witness, providing testimony for lawyers all across Florida.
"He's involved in one [case] in the Sarasota area at the present time, testifying as an expert witness for a family," said Eddins.
Soon, he'll have a day in court himself.
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