Indianapolis funeral home owner accused of using ‘fake remains’

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INDIANAPOLIS – The owner of an Indianapolis funeral home faces a civil lawsuit from a former manager who claims he was pressured to swap out body parts last summer after cadavers disappeared.

The former manager, David Eckert, said his boss—who has been investigated by Fox59 before—pushed for a quick, illegal fix.

Eckert claims he was pressured to resign, and is asking for financial damages. The owner and operator of Alpha Funeral Service, Anthony Edwards, is named in the suit.

According to the lawsuit, the Indiana University School of Medicine had been promised the remains of cadavers listed as 7473, 7514, and 8125 last summer. Those cadavers were missing—and there are additional allegations that they were never found.

The door was locked at the funeral home on Thursday, and a sign was posted on the door asking visitors to call Grinsteiner Funeral Home down the street. Edwards has close ties there as he does with Edwards Family Mortuaries Lynhurst Neighborhood Funeral Home and Fountain Square Funeral Services, according to state records.

The Grinsteiner Funeral home was the center of a Fox59 investigation last year—and so was Edwards.

“You should have more respect for the dead,” said a woman, who lived across the street from the business and told Fox59 she saw partially covered bodies.

During the investigation, Fox59 cameras caught several men moving bodies from a rented van. The bodies were not carried on gurneys. Instead, they were perched on the men’s shoulders or held in their hands as they were taken into the funeral home.

“Does that mean the deceased are literally stacked like that in the back of a van?” asked Paul St. Pierre, the State Funeral Board President at the time of the Fox59 investigation.

Pierre said it was cause for serious concern, but the practice was not illegal. There was no history of complaints on record, and none of the funeral homes mentioned have any complaints on record as of Thursday.

As Fox59 investigated the latest allegations, an employee inside the Grinsteiner Funeral Home said his boss was out of town. He offered no comment on the case.

According to court documents, Eckert said Edwards told him “to get this handled and taken care of” in reference to the missing bodies that were expected at the IU School of Medicine.

Eckert believed the “only possible way to ‘get this handled and taken care of’ was to create fake remains and false ID tags, and misrepresent the identity of fake remains.”

He assumed Edwards’ statements were “an order to gather three separate containers of random remains, and to misrepresent or fake the identities of these remains,” according to the lawsuit.

An IU School of Medicine spokesperson only said they do have a working relationship with the funeral home in question, but they are not a party involved in the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said they have not taken any action against Edwards at this time. The office cannot comment on ongoing investigations.

15 comments

  • Edith Willoughby

    How long has this been going on? I had my father cremated there??? during this time I had trouble getting the death certificate sign and my father was there for 2 weeks???? I have his remains now I am hoping they are truly his!! ???? very concern now ….

    • kristy

      i recently had my sister cremated there too and hoping its really her and nothing was done to her that shouldnt have been. Praying for you and your family Edith!

    • Lori Garcia

      My Aunt was there as well in January of 2012. And we were 2 weeks late in getting her remains back.
      We were also told that they were waiting on the Doctor to sign. But I know that her Doctor was an efficent Doctor and would not have delayed this. I think they were covingering up things.I don't know how this monster sleeps at night! I hope justice is served.

  • Penny Maynard

    i had my grandmother and stepfather cremated there and its sad to say you cant prove dna on cremated remains this is very disturbing

  • Tanya

    I had my father cremanted there last summer and it took way to long for us to get the death certificate and to be able to make his final arrangements. I do think this is a criminal act . You know we trust these people with our love ones. This is very upsetting . I feel the same as you Edith, I have my fathers remains and i hope it is truly him. I hope all the souls will rest in pease, and same on the ones who were so disrespectful. How would you feel if it was one of your loved ones. THINK ABOUT THAT.

  • D Russell

    My family has used greinstier funeral home for mor then 30yrs nothing like this has happened in the past owner ship . This is a d— shame you can't rest in peace and have some one you trust to handlel you loved one. The past owners were great we wish they had never sold the place we have lived in the erea for more then 50 yrs going back to our gr parents. Now the place is trached and falling apart we will not ever use them again. The families going threw this hard time I hope they seak justice and may there LOVED ONES REST IN PEACE YOU ARE IN OUR PRAYERS. god bles.

  • carol stepp

    can you believe that my brother was there and we picked him up friday then they called sunday and said they would do the service for free how crazzy and of all things they called us today monday 28 2013 and said my brothers remains are done and we can pick them up anytime well the things is we did this friday so now i dont know if we have my brother are not so scarry this is not right they need to be shut done what sick people

  • Tina Chadwick

    I too had my son cremated there and they did his service I am also wondering if I have my sons remains or someone elses this is horrible. It's like a parents worse nightmare. What can we do? Does anyone know?

  • janene jones

    Grinstein funeral home is the most horrible funeral home ever .If you ever use them you will be sorry. They are animals and they wont treat your family with dignity or respect .And you could even have to deal with the most horrific situation like the one I'm in now, with not even sure who's cremains I was given from these people. Go to fox 59 and see this horrible nightmare, you wont believe how people could do this to anyone after losing your loved one.

  • hoosierman1

    I Thought i was the only person going through this shit from grinstiers in july 2012 my partner passed away and we had his remains picked up through grinstiers and thay did his cremation and it took me 17 days to pick up his ashes, thay kept telling the doctor didn't sign off on the death certificate and on day 17 at 9am i told them i was having another funeral home pick up he's remain and thay told me i could pick him up in 4 or 5 hours and i did, after seeing all the stories on facebook i called fox59 and thay told me it was none of there busniess,
    i'm not sure i have my lovers ashes or some guy named joe black, so with that said FUCK FOX 59 & FUCK GRINSTIERS

  • allen pruitt

    i would like to start out saying Iu is just as sick as grinsteiner funerl home,iu said they could hold my little 23 year old daughter for 7 days. in less 48 hours grindteiner calls my ex sister in law saying the need 2150.00 to have a open casket,because she was turning black,hell of a thing to tell a greiving father and her brother.so sad i will find the sorry sobs that caused my daughters death with the help of jesus i shall suceed.thank you all and god bless.

  • Sharon Sandusky

    Fox 59, while this may not be a “top” story to most, if you revealed all of the complaints and investigations filed against Alpha Funeral Services, it would play out like some kind of a movie thriller. The people that run Alpha have no morals and will do anything, including theft of body parts and personal property of the diseased to better themselves. When confronted, they say they have no knowledge of these accusations and instead blame their contractors who we found in our investigation just happened to be related to management. If you want a movie script on a local Mafia keep investigating!

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