Families of dead sue Indiana funeral home being investigated

Two families are suing a southern Indiana funeral home where police found more than 30 bodies, including some that were badly decomposed.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Clark Superior Court No. 6, Cynthia Faye Cook and Jeffrey Lorey allege that Lankford Funeral Home in Jeffersonville gave misleading information about the cremated remains of their daughter, Nicole Dallas Lorey. They say the funeral home’s director, Randy Lankford, told them the company didn’t have a container in which to send her remains.

The family of James “Mike” Settle alleges Lankford gave them similar reasons for not sending them his remains.

“I have heard, you know, over and over and time again from these families, the expression of the feeling that they failed, you know, to fulfil their last obligation,” the families’ lawyer, Larry Wilder of Jeffersonville, told The Associated Press by phone Thursday.

Wilder said the Clark County coroner’s office told Settle’s family that his body was among those found decomposing in the funeral home. He said Cook and Lorey haven’t been told if her body was among them.

Lankford didn’t immediately reply to an email and voicemail left Thursday seeking comment, and the coroner didn’t respond to requests for further information about the case.

Police began investigating the funeral home last Friday and found 31 bodies, including some that were badly decomposed, and 16 sets of cremated remains. Some of the bodies had been there since March.

Jeffersonville police Maj. Isaac Parker said Tuesday that further information would be released after investigators identified the bodies and notified the families of the dead. He also said criminal charges haven’t been ruled out.

Parker didn’t immediately reply to a message left Thursday seeking an update.

County prosecutor Jeremy Mull said via email that he was waiting for the police report to determine whether charges are warranted.

The plaintiffs are seeking financial compensation and a jury trial. Wilder said other families of the dead are expected to join the lawsuit.

___

Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Arleigh Rodgers on Twitter.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.