Justice for infant son who was improperly buried - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Justice for infant son who was improperly buried

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By: Rachel Collier - rcollier@fox41.com

MADISON, Ind. (WDRB Fox 41)--An Indiana couple whose infant son was improperly buried in a cemetery plagued with problems has finally found justice.

Nearly 20 years after his death, the parents found out their sun was buried in a wooden shipping crate.

The lawsuit is now settled and behind them, but for Ellen and Ralph Kendall, what was done to their son will always seem like an injustice.

Ralph Kendall was stationed in Germany in March of 1988 when his wife delivered their son, Forrest. He only lived to be 4 days old.

The parents had to ship Forrest back to Indiana.

The Army took care of shipping Forrest back to Indiana in a wooden shipping crate. "His remains were shipped in an infant sized shipping container, for that purpose," said the family attorney, Tony Goebel.

The family used Jim Holt, a well respected funeral director in Madison, Indiana. "Mr. Holt assured Ralph Kendall that everything would be taken care of not to worry about a thing," said Goebel.

For 19 years, they did not worry--until they saw horrifying pictures on the news in 2007 of water-filled graves at Grandview Memorial Gardens, where their precious son was buried.

But they found out--it was not a watery grave they were dealing with. "They had his body exhumed, in April of 2007, and that's when they discovered he had not been buried in the combination baby casket vault but in the shipping container," said Goebel.

Forest had been buried in the wooden shipping crate. But Goebel says a pristine white combination infant casket vault was in the contract, and in the funeral service. "And the family had this service, believeing that their son, Forrest, was in the casket at the time of the funeral, now they aren't sure that he was," said Goebel, "they felt like they had failed their son."

The funeral home and cemetery have gone through different owners and plenty of lawsuits. We spoke to Jim Holt today by phone who said "he has nothing to hide, and that he's done nothing wrong." He said the family "never purchased a casket from him."

The family settled the lawsuit this week, finding some sort of closure. "We realized that nothing was ever going to bring back their son, nothing was ever going to right the wrong that had taken place, but they wanted to hold Mr. Holt accountable," said Goebel.

Their son has found a final resting place in a different cemetery.

Holt wanted to talk with his lawyer before talking to Fox 41 on camera, but said he was very disappointed that it did not go to trial, and says he wants to get his side of the story out.

The family settled with an undisclosed amount of money for emotional and mental pain they went through.

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