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.