UPDATED: Lankford charged criminally in funeral home case

Aug. 31—CLARK COUNTY — Jeffersonville funeral home owner Randy Lankford has been criminally charged, almost two months after authorities raided his funeral home and found decomposing bodies and human remains.

Authorities found 31 bodies along with the cremated remains of 17 people after executing a search warrant on the property. Lankford is facing three Level 6 felony theft charges and three misdemeanor theft charges.

Lankford turned himself in at the Clark County jail on Wednesday.

For some families, the current charges aren't enough, however Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull is still able to file more criminal charges in the case.

"It's very discouraging, as a family who has been told to 'Just be patient' and 'Just be patient,' 'The charges were coming, the charges were coming' and for these to be (the charges,)" Amanda Humphrey said.

The charges have only been filed in connection to three families who had loved ones at Lankford Family Funeral Home.

"I feel like every family deserves a charge," she said. "All 31 bodies and all 17 (people with cremated remains). I mean every person involved in this situation deserves a (criminal) charge for their family member."

Amanda and her brother Mark Humphrey are part of a class action civil lawsuit filed by some of the families against Lankford. She has been at every court proceeding and offered comfort and understanding to other victims. They both reside in Kentucky and went to Lankford to provide cremation services for their father, Michael Humphrey.

"I'm not saying the six charges brought up shouldn't have six charges, but what's any different from my father with these charges?" she said. "It's almost like throwing salt in a wound."

She said for her family, the charges aren't a relief.

Attorney Larry Wilder, representing other families in the class action civil lawsuit, told the News and Tribune on Wednesday that they're looking for justice for their loved ones, too.

According to the court records, the felony charges said Lankford "did knowingly or intentionally exert unauthorized control over the property" of the cremated remains of three people, "with the intent to deprive (family members) of any part or the use or value of the property, said property of having a value of at least $750 and less than the value of $50,000."

The misdemeanor charges are connected to the felony charges and allege Lankford "exerted unauthorized control" over the remains of three of the people in his care or the money given to him for the cremated remains with the intent to deprive the victims of any part of use or value of the property.

Lankford is facing two class action lawsuits from families who said he gave them the wrong remains or left them hanging for months while they waited to lay their loved ones to rest.

During the civil court proceedings Lankford said New Albany attorney George Streib had been retained to represent him if criminal charges are filed.

Newly released court records explain some of what happened the day of the raid.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Jeffersonville police were called to Lankford's funeral home at 3106 Middle Road on July 1 after an anonymous complaint that he was "allowing bodies to decompose inside."

The scene is described by Jeffersonville Police Detective Josh Schiller in the court records.

"I could smell from what I know from experience to be an extreme stage of decomposition of remains emanating from the northeast corner of the building," he wrote.

Jeffersonville police detectives were able to make contact with the co-owner of the funeral home, Michelle Lankford, who told officers the funeral home's air conditioning units hadn't been working for 10 days and they were trying to resolve the issue.

Officers then asked to see burial transfer permits for any of the bodies that were in the funeral home at that time.

"Upon entering, I observed a body bag on a gurney not far from the entrance to the funeral home's main office," he wrote. "I observed dead blow flies all over the ground in this small room past the offices near the body on the gurney."

Police then followed the co-owner into another room and "observed another body bag on a gurney with a large bag of ice on top of the body."

The smell of the decomposition was described as "horrendous."

Police said Randy Lankford arrived while Michelle Lankford was looking for the burial permits.

Randy Lankford told police the air conditioning had gone out and he'd planned on driving the bodies to the crematorium he uses in Seymour, "in the next couple of days."

Police determined they needed to proceed with a death investigation and all bodies in Lankford's possession needed to be turned over to the Clark County Coroner's Office.

Police searched every room of the funeral home and found bodies in various stages of decomposition. The oldest was from March. A total of 31 bodies were found and placed into new body bags, secured in a refrigerated trailer and released to the Clark County Coroner's Office.

Seventeen urns with remains were also found and released to the coroner's office, court documents said.

Police and the coroner's office then made contact with the next of kin and learned families received remains of other people, not their loved ones.

Officers contacted one of the crematories Lankford had been using. They said the owner told them she had cremated bodies for the funeral home at one time but stopped, because Randy Lankford wasn't able to pay his bills she sent him for the cremations and the plan was to take him to small claims court for the money he owed them.

The Jeffersonville Police Department, Clark County Coroner's Office, Clark County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police, Clark County Emergency Management, Clark County Health Department, Clark County Prosecutor's Office, Jeffersonville Fire Department, the Indiana Attorney General's Office and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security have all been part of the case.

The News and Tribune contacted Lankford's criminal attorney but did not hear back by press time. The News and Tribune also reached out to attorney Karl Truman, who is representing other families who've filed a civil lawsuit against Lankford.