IU med school to discuss cadaver program with funeral service

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The Indiana University School of Medicine is discussing its relationship with Alpha Funeral Service, amid allegations that cremated remains of random cadavers were fraudulently sent back to the school, and ultimately, three families.

At Crown Hill Cemetery, a memorial honors the unknown contributors of medical science education. Men and women from all over the state giving in death, by donating their bodies for study and research.

Each year, the cremated remains of those cadavers find a permanent resting place in Section 41, or the remains are sent back to their families.

Now, a local funeral service hired to handle the cremains is facing a lawsuit. A former director says the cremains sent to three families last summer identified only by numbers are not who Alpha Funeral Service says the are.

David Eckert says they are a fraudulent mix of random remains, sent after an IU staff member called asking for them.

According to Eckert, owner Anthony Edwards could not locate the proper remains and ordered him to "get this handled and taken care of." He says that meant to create fake remains and false ID tags.

An IU spokeswoman says the allegation now has the School of Medicine discussing its contract and relationship with the funeral service, calling any question about the integrity of the program "unacceptable."

The alleged missing cremains could have come from cadavers donated almost two years ago. IU tells families who want remains returned home it could take anywhere from 18-24 months, depending on when the cadaver is introduced into a program scheduled class.

Edwards was not in his offices at Alpha Funeral Service Friday. 13 Investigates also checked for him at Edwards Family Mortuaries, but no one answered the door.

His attorney denied all allegations late Thursday night.

David Eckert has not made any public statements about the lawsuit and his attorney did not return calls on Friday.

Mary Hardin at Indiana University says the contract with Alpha will end on June 30 of this year, but was unable to say how much Alpha Funeral Service is being paid.

The university's direct donor program requires all cadavers be sent to Indianapolis upon donation. They are distributed to eight campuses across the state for first- and second-year medical classes, as well as nursing and dental schools.

The direct donor program covers the cost of transportation, embalming and death certificates.

Direct donor program FAQ