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'When is the justice going to start?' Lawsuit against Lankford Funeral Home moves forward

On Wednesday, families took their grief to the courtroom and attorneys learned the names of the dozens of bodies recovered from the Jeffersonville funeral home.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — At least eight families are suing Lankford Funeral Home, after a strong smell was reported to be coming from the building. Police say 31 decomposing bodies and 16 sets of cremated remains were found. 

Wednesday, many of those families took their grief to the courtroom, hoping to find some accountability and justice.

While Lankford Funeral Home owner Randy Lankford was absent from the courthouse, he is now being ordered to appear at a hearing early next week.

"[That's] so we can ask questions under oath to determine some things that are important for this whole group of individuals," Larry Wilder, the attorney representing several of the families, said.

It comes as a judge also agreed to release the names of those 31 bodies identified and recovered from Lankford to Wilder under seal.

Wilder says the action is a step in the right direction toward verifying his plaintiffs' complaints and bringing them that much closer to justice.

It would be justice for families like that of Amanda and Mark Humphrey. They lost their father, Michael Eugene Humphrey, on May 29 of this year.

Credit: Amanda and Mark Humphrey
Amanda and Mark Humphrey's father Michael Eugene Humphrey died May 29, 2022. They entrusted Lankford Funeral Home to cremate him but received the wrong remains.

"The first couple of days, I felt like I was numb. It was like a bad dream I couldn't wake up from," Mark Humphrey said. "The question I want to know is, when is the justice going to start?"

They trusted Lankford to care for his remains and a week after he died, they picked up what they believed to be their late dad's ashes.

"After doing a celebration of life, we found out that they do not belong to us," Amanda Humphrey said.

Mark Humphrey said the owner has to be "a sick individual."

"I mean, one person we could call it a mistake but 48 different families involved?" he said. "He's got to be a very sick individual."  

Cynthia Cape, another person who entrusted their loved ones remains to the funeral home, said she's grieving her husband's death for a second time now and looking for answers from Lankford.

Credit: Cynthia Cape
After Cynthia Cape's husband, Sam Battaglia Jr., died April 22, she entrusted Lankford Funeral Home to cremate his body. Three months later, she has yet to receive any ashes and is unsure if she ever will.

"I'm quite certain I would slap him and spit in his face," she said. "I'm sorry, I mean I think I would because it's unacceptable." 

Her late husband, Sam Battaglia Jr., died in late April. She never received his remains and now fears his ashes were lost or given away to another family.

"My last promise to my husband was that I would hang on to his ashes and when his cat dies, they will be together," she said. "And I will plant a tree with [them]. And I can't do that with someone else's ashes."

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