The remains of an 81-year-old woman were found in an abandoned casket at a funeral home where they had been stashed since she died nearly four years ago.
Workers found the decayed body of Pauline Keller as they renovated the building in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Tuesday.
Keller was left to rot in a casket hidden in the mortuary after a funeral home director with a history of improperly disposing of human remains allegedly failed to bury her in a cemetery.
U.Z. Tinker, who knew Ms Keller for 50 years and took care of her until her death in 2008, told WTHR-TV she signed a contract with Marvin Boatwright's funeral home before she died. Under the agreement, Boatwright was supposed to bury her at a local cemetery after the funeral service.
In a statement to WTHR, Boatwright claimed he was locked out of his funeral home by the owners of the building and never had a chance to bury the body. ''I completely forgot about Ms Keller until I heard her name,'' he said.
Boatwright was accused of mishandling remains after the body of an infant was found in a garbage dumpster outside one of his businesses. He was sentenced to five years in prison in 2009.
Tinker said he feels guilty he never made sure Ms Keller was properly buried. ''I am very hurt because I feel like I have let her down because I didn't follow her all the way to the cemetery,'' he said.
Boatwright no longer operates a funeral home where Ms Keller's remains were found. The building is currently for sale.
The remains were taken to the county coroner's office, where they will be given a proper burial.
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