Tongues have been wagging all around town in Gainesville, Fla., after a contractor found jars filled with human remains under the floorboards of a woman’s house.
The contractor discovered six to eight jars filled largely with human tongues, unbeknownst to homeowner Mary Baughman, according to the Gainesville Police Department. The contractor reported the gruesome discovery to police earlier this week, Fox 13 Orlando reports.
But the homeowner’s ex-husband, Dr. Ronald Baughman, can explain. He brought the tongues home from his job as a pathology researcher and stored them under the house where they would stay cool, he told local station WCJB.
Ronald Baughman worked in pathology for decades and is a professor emeritus at the University of Florida, WCJB reports. He said the specimens go back as far as the 1960s, and he was simply holding onto them for additional research.
The doctor forgot about them when he split from his wife, Mary, and moved out of the house years ago.
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“We’ve got no indication that they were trying to hide anything from us or be deceptive about anything,” Chief Insp. Jorge Campos told WCJB. “They’ve been forthcoming from the get-go. That’s why in our preliminary investigation we don’t think we have anything criminal. We just need to verify everything.”
Campos added that Ronald Baughman appears to have brought the specimens home back in the 1960s, when laws were very different around possessing human remains.
“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,” University of Florida spokesperson 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.”
One of the jars appears to contain a fetus, NBC 2 reports.
Medical examiners are inspecting the jars’ contents to verify their ages and origins.