JEFFERSONVILLE, India –
The director of a funeral home in southern Indiana, where 31 decomposing and cremated bodies of 17 others were discovered, pleaded guilty Friday to more than 40 counts of aggravated burglary.
Randy Lankford, owner of the Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center in Jeffersonville, faces a proposed sentence of 12 years: four years in prison and eight years of house arrest, Judge N. Lisa Glickfield of the Clark County Circuit Court said.
Lankford was charged with theft for not completing the funeral services for which he was paid, and had to pay a total of $46,000 in restitution to 53 families.
Lankford was released into custody after the hearing. The formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 23.
Jeffersonville police began investigating the funeral home in early July last year after the county coroner’s office reported a strong odor emanating from the building. Unrefrigerated bodies were found in various states of decomposition, and some have been at the funeral home since March.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said the multiple charges against Lankford and current court backups from the COVID-19 pandemic complicate the process. He said he felt the state’s move to eliminate about half of the numbers would provide the most immediate form of relief.
“We want justice for these families,” he said.
Derrick Kessinger attended Friday’s hearing. He said he trusted Lankford while the remains of three loved ones sat inside the funeral home.
“It was difficult, but I forgive him for what he did,” Kessinger said. “I hope he can find forgiveness.”
Kessinger was eventually cremated.