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Sunday, May 28 2023 12:00

Indiana funeral home bodies: Police find 31 bodies, some in 'advanced stages of decomposition'

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind.– The director of a southern Indiana funeral home where 31 decomposing bodies and the remains of 17 others were found pleaded guilty Friday to more than 40 counts of felony theft.

Randy Lankford, owner of the Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center in Jeffersonville, faces a proposed 12-year sentence: four years in prison and eight years of house arrest, said Clark County District Court Judge Lisa Glickfield of Clark County N.

Lankford was charged with theft for failing to complete the funeral services he had paid for, and also owed damages to 53 families for a total of $46,000.

Lankford was released into house arrest after the trial. A formal sentencing hearing is planned for June 23.

Jeffersonville Police began investigating the funeral home in early July after the county coroner's office reported a strong odor coming from the building. The bodies that were not refrigerated were found in various states of decomposition, and some had been in funeral homes since March.

Clark County Attorney Jeremy Mull said the sheer number of charges against Lankford and existing court support from the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the process. He said he felt the state's move to eliminate about half of the tally would provide the most expeditious form of leniency.

“We want to get justice for these families,” he said.

Derrick Kessinger attended Friday's court hearing. He said he trusted Lankford while the remains of three loved ones sat inside the funeral home.

“It was tough, but I forgive him for what he did,” Kessinger said. “I hope he can find forgiveness.”

Kessinger eventually received cremation.

The video in the player above is from a previous report.

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