A funeral director has pleaded guilty to theft after discovering 31 decomposed bodies and 17 cremated remains at his Indiana place of business.
Randy Lankford, owner of Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center in Jeffersonville, faces 43 counts of felony theft for failing to complete a funeral service he paid for.
In July 2022, police began investigating the funeral home after the county coroner’s office reported a strong odor emanating from the building.
The unrefrigerated bodies were found in various states of decay, some of which had been in the funeral home since March of that year.
Authorities found three of the facility’s four air conditioners were not working
The bodies in the body bags were stored in separate rooms, where several had been stored “for a long time”.
Lankford is facing multiple lawsuits over the body or cremated remains found at his funeral home last July.
In a civil lawsuit filed last week, a couple said Lankford sent them a plastic box in June last year that it allegedly contained their daughter’s remains.
The couple later learned that their daughter hadn’t been cremated at all – she was one of the decomposing bodies Lankford’s company found.
The lawsuit accuses Lankford of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.
Derrick Kessinger, who commissioned Lankford to handle the cremated remains of three relatives found in the funeral home, appeared at Friday’s hearing.
“It was tough, but I do forgive what he did,” Mr Kessinger said.
“I hope he can be forgiven.”
Mr Kessinger eventually received the cremated remains of his loved one.
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Court records in Clark County show Lankford pleaded guilty to 43 counts of theft with property valued at between $750 (£607) and $50,000 (£40,500).
Clark County Circuit Court Judge N. Lisa Glickfield said he faces 12 years in prison — four in prison and eight in home confinement.
Lankford must also pay compensation totaling $46,000 (£37,259) to 53 families.
After the hearing, he was released and returned home to incarceration.
A formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 23.