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Indiana funeral director pleads guilty to 40 theft counts after decomposing bodies found

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

Randy Lankford, owner of Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center in Jeffersonville, faces a proposed sentence of 12 years: four years in prison and eight years of home incarceration, Clark County Circuit Court Judge N. Lisa Glickfield said.

Lankford was charged with theft for failing to complete the funeral services he was paid for, and must also pay restitution to 53 families totaling $46,000.

Lankford was released to home incarceration following the hearing. A formal sentencing hearing is planned for June 23.

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Jeffersonville Police began investigating the funeral home early last July after the county coroner’s office reported a strong odor emanating from the building. The unrefrigerated bodies were found in various states of decomposition, and some had been at the funeral home since March.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said the many charges against Lankford and existing court backups from the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the process. He said he felt the state’s move to eliminate about half of the counts will grant the most immediate form of relief.

“We wanted 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’s been tough, but I do forgive him for what he did,” Kessinger said. “I hope he can find forgiveness.”

Kessinger eventually received the cremains.