JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — The director of an Indiana funeral home where 31 decomposing bodies and post-cremation remains of 17 others were found last year pleaded guilty Friday to felony theft charges.
Randy Lankford, owner of Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center, was charged with more than 40 counts of felony theft for failing to complete the funeral services he was paid for.
Police in Jeffersonville, a southern Indiana city of about 50,000 residents, began investigating the funeral home in early July after a report of a strong odor coming from the building, police said then. The unrefrigerated bodies were in various states of decomposition, and police alleged the longest had been stored there since March 2022.
Judge N. Lisa Glickfield offered a 12-year sentence, four years as an executed sentence and eight years on home incarceration. He was released released to home incarceration on Friday. The terms of Lankford’s deal waive the 50-year-old’s right to appeal the more than 40 counts of felony theft charges he faced.
PREVIOUSLY:What to know about the discovery of 31 decomposing bodies in Indiana funeral home
Lankford was ordered to pay restitution to 53 families, totaling $46,000. His sentencing is set for 9 a.m. on June 23. Victims’ family members will be allowed to share prepared statements, and they can file contingent claims for restitution of up to $1,000.
Clark County lead prosecutor Jeremy Mull said the vast number of charges against Lankford and existing court backups dating back to the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the process. Mull feels that 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.
Cynthia Cape of Louisville used Lankford’s services for arrangements for her husband Sam Battaglia Jr. A year to the date of his April 22, 2022 death, she received his cremated ashes after DNA testing caused painstaking delays.
After her first court experience with Lankford in the room, she said she was upset he will get home incarceration but acknowledged the small victory in getting her husband’s remains.
“This just submitted for me how hard this can truly be,” Cape said.
Derrick Kessinger had three loved ones — his father Mickey Kessinger, fiancée Aierell Barton and her father Richard Barton — in the care of Lankford’s funeral home. Although he was shocked when he heard the terms of the plea and indifferent to the restitution money, the father of two young sons said he felt relief in the process coming to an end.
Contributing: The Associated Press