Jeffersonville man says Lankford Funeral Home took months to deliver father’s ashes

Jerry Johnson’s father, Jerry Swann, died in late February after a third bout with cancer and COVID-19. He said he did not receive his father's remains until Ma
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 10:22 PM EDT
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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - A nearly six-month process to get his father’s remains is finally over for one Jeffersonville man.

He believes the truth about why it took so long may be buried within the walls of a local funeral home.

Jerry Johnson’s father, Jerry Swann, died in late February after a third bout with cancer and COVID-19.

A week later, he came in contact with Randy Lankford of Lankford Funeral Home and Family Center and paid him to handle the cremation.

“Lankford just seemed like he was real nice, you know...that he cared,” Johnson said. “So, that’s why he went with his funeral home.”

Lankford told WAVE News he didn’t get his dad’s ashes until May.

“I called and every time I called, I got an excuse,” Johnson said. “Like he would say his wife was having surgery and he couldn’t go get my dad’s cremation. And then I called back and then Brandy would pick up the phone. And Brandy said, ‘well he’s busy he’ll call you back.’ And I never got a call back. So then I started blowing up his cell phone. And then I got ahold of him and he said he was in school. And so, then I started calling every week, once a week.”

Eventually, Johnson got his father’s ashes and thought everything was settled.

That is, until he turned on the news a few days ago and saw the stories.

Investigators discovered 31 dead bodies, some of which were in advanced stages of decomposition. Officials also found the “post-cremation remains” of 16 people, according to a news release from the Jeffersonville Police Department.

“I was just...I wanted to go down there,” Johnson said. “I mean, I was mad.”

Johnson said he then started to question whether the ashes he had were correct.

He called the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

“And I called them and they said his ashes was down there at the coroner,” Johnson said. “And I was like, ‘woah who am I wearing around my neck?”

Tuesday, the coroner’s office confirmed to Johnson he had his father’s ashes. But, Johnson was also told another box of his father’s ashes was sitting at the office.

“I was shocked,” Johnson said. “And then she asked me, she goes, ‘did you guys tell him to split up the ashes?’ And I was like, ‘no, we never agreed to that.’”

Ultimately, Johnson knows his situation will be settled and that several other families are in worse shape.

But while he waits for the second box of remains, he can’t help but wonder what was going on behind the doors of the funeral home.

“Me and my wife and the other families put trust in his funeral home, and he let everybody down,” Johnson said.

A civil lawsuit was filed in Clark County Superior Court against Lankford Funeral Home over the weekend by next of kin for one of the deceased on July 5.

Johnson said he’s reached out to an attorney to determine if he should take legal action.

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