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Attorney: Family receives incorrect remains from southern Indiana funeral home

Attorney Larry Wilder says he doesn't know if or how many other families were potentially given the wrong remains.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — More families have decided to take legal action against Lankford Funeral Home as new details emerge, painting a better picture of the conditions inside the facility.

According to Attorney Larry Wilder, the Clark County Coroner's Office notified one family he's representing that the cremated remains they received, believed to be their late son's, were not his, and that their son's body was one of the 31 recovered.

Wilder says he doesn't know if or how many other families were potentially given the wrong remains. He also doesn't know whether this was done intentionally by the funeral home. Though, Wilder added the act, whether or not a mistake, is deeply damaging to the grieving families he's been meeting with.

"Mr. Lankford is an abominable, horrific, despicable, monstrous character," he said.

RELATED: Kentucky family files lawsuit against southern Indiana funeral home under investigation after bodies, remains found

The business is currently under investigation after 31 bodies and 16 boxes of cremated remains were recovered from the facility July 1.

Wilder said the 16 boxes of cremated remains were discovered with no labels or identifiable tags. 

Days later, Wilder said he filed a class-action lawsuit against the business Wednesday.

Wilder said as of right now, eight families have signed on to be a part of the class action, adding he is in contact with at least a dozen more families.

He said he plans to ask a judge to release the names of all 31 families whose loved ones were among the bodies recovered and ask them to all sign on to the class action.

He said the earliest hearing could come as soon as next month.

Tara Owens is one of the eight families suing Lankford Funeral Home. She had sent the remains of her brother Mike to the facility on April 11. 

She chose to have him cremated, but three months later, had no clue as to her late brother's condition or where he was, until Tuesday. She said the Clark County Coroner's Office notified her that Mike was of the 31 bodies recovered.

She said her brother's body had been sitting inside Lankford Funeral Home since April, out in the open and not once refrigerated.

Owens said when she heard the news, she felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her. 

RELATED: 'I feel like he put on a front': Clients of southern Indiana funeral home speak after bodies found decomposing

"I thought there's no way. He's been dead for 90 days," she said. "There's no way this man let someone lay in a funeral home unrefrigerated for 90 days, decomposing for that long. There's no way."

Derrick Kessinger, another client of the funeral home, said the missing remains of his father were also identified as one of the 31 bodies. 

The bodies and ashes recovered from the funeral home are in the possession of the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

They are working with Jeffersonville police to determine the identities and contact those relatives.

WHAS11 has reached out to Lankford Funeral Home in response to some of these allegations and discoveries multiple times, however, the business and its owners could not be reached at the time of this publication.

If you have entrusted the care of your loved one with the funeral home, you are asked to call the coroner’s office at (812) 285-6535.

Contact reporter Connor Steffen at csteffen@whas11.com or on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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