Neighbors react to Indiana funeral home investigation

31 bodies and the cremation remains from 16 people were found and removed from the the Lankford Funeral Home in Jeffersonville Friday night.
Published: Jul. 2, 2022 at 9:45 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - 31 bodies and the cremation remains from 16 people were found and removed from the the Lankford Funeral Home in Jeffersonville Friday night.

Jeffersonville police says some of the bodies were in the funeral home since March and were in the advance stages of decomposition. The smell coming from the building was so bad that someone called police, and that’s what started the investigation.

Kenny Kersey says his family has been in the funeral business for decades. When Lankford Funeral Home was first bought by owner Randy Lankford, Kersey says Lankford gave him a tour.

“He took us into one side room that had about five bodies on stretchers and I thought was kind of odd at the time. Usually they’re supposed to go to refrigeration or right to embalming,” Kersey said.

Kersey says he applied for a body removal job that was posted online by Lankford.

“He said come on down here and we’ll talk. Well when I got down there at that point of time, he wasn’t here. I called and he said, ‘we’re busy. We’ll get ahold of you.’ And he never did.”

One woman commented on the WAVE news Facebook page saying that she’s been waiting almost three months for her brother’s ashes. In an email she posted, Lankford responded back by saying he’s been out of the office due to personal family issues.

Police say they’ve been in contact with Lankford and are still investigating if criminal charges will be filed. We’ve tried to get in touch with Lankford several times through phone calls and emails but haven’t gotten a response.

Rickey Stroud and Tei Pelli live next door to the Lankford. They say they were surprised that something like this would happen in their backyard.

“I was surprised. It’s almost like seeing a scary movie. What do you expect when you see all these cars and fire trucks and dumpster trucks?” Stroud said.

“I thought it was a movie so it made sense. And when I saw the people with the uniforms and whatever, they’re just filming. Close my blinds and retire,” said Pelli.

When told them an odor is what got everything started, they were surprised.

“I didn’t smell anything. And I grew up in front of a cemetery,” Pelli said.

To Kersey and the neighbors, everyone at Lankford seemed to be nice people. Pelli says when she would see bodies come in, they were cared for.

“The things that I did observe were very caring. I don’t have anything bad to say about what I observed.”

But in their eyes, that doesn’t excuse what happened

“But stuff like this doesn’t just happen. You call someone if you’re that behind,” Kersey said.

Again, no one has been charged with any crimes, but several agencies including the Department of Homeland Security are investigating.

The bodies were sent to the Clark County Coroner’s office to be identified and their families will be contacted.

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