Macradee Aegerter, Fox4KC, Reporting
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A former metro medical examiner who once worked for Jackson County is accused of crudely preserving human organs in a storage unit in Pensacola, Florida.
Michael Berkland worked for Jackson County before being fired in 1996. Berkland then moved to Florida to work as a medical examiner.
The discovery was made after Berkland defaulted on a storage unit he rented. The contents were auctioned off, and the winning bidder made the gruesome discovery after being overpowered by a pungent odor. Inside plastic food containers he found human brains and lungs. Investigators also found a human heart inside a drinking cup leaking formaldehyde.
Berkland was the previous owner of the unit. His attorney says he has broken no laws.
Robert Mayo auctions storage units on the last Friday of every month in Kansas City. Mayo said it’s always interesting because you never know what you’re going to find.
“A lot of valuable and not so valuable stuff ends up in storage units,” he said.
While Mayo says he’s never encountered human remains, one unit he sold stands out in his memory.
“It was a company that was manufacturing coffins, so we had unfinished coffins and finished coffins and all the equipment that you would use to manufacture coffins,” he said.
Officials say Berkland was performing private autopsies in Pensacola. In Missouri, Berkland was never charged but did lose his medical license.