Hannibal Lecter or a Warm-Hearted Paleontologist? The Olympian Can't Decide

After an Olympia man died in his home on February 5, the coroner collecting the body also found a number of unusual items, including three human skeletons, eight skulls and, a decomposing, vacuum-sealed cat.Sunday's headlines suggested the uncovering of these grisly artifacts was akin to stumbling upon Leatherface's gory basement in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: "Grim discovery in Olympia," read The Olympian's. "Skeletons, skulls found in home of dead man," intoned Tacoma's News-Tribune's.If you went only by the sensationalized scareheads, you'd think that after slinking away from that Baltimore sanitarium, Hannibal Lecter had lived out his days in Thurston County.So who was this sick monster who hoarded the remains of other living creatures? The papers demurred, claiming that the coroner won't allow them to reveal any personal information.Which is only true if you ignore the fact that they had printed the dead man's name more than a month earlier.On March 3, The Olympian ran the following obituary: "Goose Z. Kaler passed away Friday, February 5, 2010, at home in Olympia. Goose was born June 9, 1954 to Flora and Lester Kaler, also of Olympia. He is survived by four cousins. Goose, a geologist by training, was an avid scientific collector and an expert on fossils and meteorites. His focuses were on stratigraphy, anatomy, and vertebrate paleontology. He authored, or co-authored, a number of scientific papers, and had a passion for philosophy, poetry and opera, especially Wagner. Goose worked many years for the state library system. He was an active member of Toastmasters, had belonged to the Northwest Scientific Association, established the Eyrops Traveling Science Museum, and taught science to autistic children at the Olympia Open Door Autism Clinic. He was much loved by all who knew him."To their credit, readers of both papers loudly criticized the misleading headlines. One, under the tag "buried_forest," spoke for many: "Shame on you Olympian and News Tribune for your inappropriate and sensational headline on this article and complete failure to mention that the man who had the bones was a published paleontologist and an expert on vertebrate paleontology in Washington."Here's hoping that Mr. Zaler, along with his many earthly accomplishments, also had a sense of humor.

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