GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- UPDATE 2/18/20:
We spoke with Mary Baughman and her ex-husband, Dr. Ronald Baughman. They both say that the tongues found were nothing more than a research project many years ago.
Dr. Ronald Baughman was a world-renowned pathologist, researcher and University of Florida Professor Emeritus.
He had obtained the specimens during his research when he was early in his career back in the ’60s and ’70s and brought the specimens with him when he came to Florida to work at the University of Florida with the intention of using it in additional research.
Baughman says he stored the tongues in the crawl space of the house because it was a cool area to preserve them. Both Baughman and his ex-wife Mary, who owns the house, say they had completely forgotten they were even under the house.
Some of the specimens dated back to as early as the 1960s, when the laws and research regulations may have been different.
Steve Orlando, a spokesperson for UF, says, “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. 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.”
Police also say this type of thing isn’t uncommon in Gainesville with the University of Florida and 3 local hospitals.
Police also say it doesn’t appear there was any criminal activity associated with the tongues but the investigation is still ongoing.
Jorge Campos, a spokesperson for UF, says "We’ve got no indication that they were trying to hide anything from us or be deceptive about anything. They’ve been forthcoming from the getgo. That's why in our preliminary investigation we don’t think we have anything criminal, we just need to verify everything.”
Gainesville Police are investigating jars of preserved human tongues found in the crawlspace of a house in northwest Gainesville's Brywood neighborhood, off NW 16th Avenue.
The remains were discovered during an inspection of the house's foundation. The home was previously owned by Dr. Ronald A. Baughman, a former University of Florida researcher and current professor emeritus who published studies in the 1970s and '80s.
GPD tells TV20 they're looking into the possibility that the preserved tongues are related to work that Dr. Baughman may have brought home, and stored under the house's floorboards. Some of the jars date back as far as the 1960's.