Police are investigating several jars of human remains found Monday underneath a Florida woman’s house.
The Gainesville Police Department said Mary Baughman had a contractor out to give her a quote on work she wanted to be done on her house, but when he went to look for damage underneath the house, he found gallon-sized plastic jars of human tongues, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The labels on the jars were dated back to the late 1960s.
Alarmed by what he saw, the contractor immediately called the police, according to chief inspector Jorge Campos.
Although the jars had been long forgotten about, things were not as sinister as they seemed.
The jars were specimens from a research project on thyroid and neck conditions that Baughman’s ex-husband had conducted.
Mary Baughman’s ex-husband, Dr. Ronald Baughman, was a world-renowned pathologist, researcher and University of Florida professor emeritus, WCJB-TV reported.
The tongues had come from research Dr. Baughman conducted in his early career and he stored them in the crawlspace underneath the house for when he had time to get back to them.
“He decided to put them in there because it was a cool place to put them,” Campos told the Tampa Bay Times. “Cool as in temperature.”
Dr. Baughman and his ex-wife said they both ultimately forgot about the tongues underneath the house, however, laws and regulations about taking this kind of research home in the 1960s might be different than they are now.
“I don’t know what the policies and laws would have been like 50 years ago or whenever it was, but I can tell you that today that’s not something that would be permitted,” a spokesman with the University of Florida, Steve Orlando, told WCJB.
“There are very strict federal and state laws as well as university policies that prohibit that. It would be neither appropriate or legal for a faculty member or researcher to bring something like that home.”
Campos said that police have not found anything criminal-activity related to the jars of tongues, but the investigation is ongoing until they can verify the research that was being conducted and see if any laws have been broken.
According to Campos, discoveries of this kind are not uncommon in Gainesville because of the prestigious research institution nearby, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“We’ve had cases of various different types of body parts before,” he said. “We do come across not only human specimens, (but also) animal specimens.”
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