A coffin has been discovered with the corpse of a young girl, buried 145 years ago still gripping a red rose underneath a San Francisco home. Construction workers were remodeling Ericka Karner's childhood home in the Richmond District when they hit the lead-and-bronze coffin buried underneath the concrete garage. The 3-foot casket's two windows revealed the perfectly preserved skin and long blonde hair of the girl, who is believed to have died when she was three-years-old.
It is believed the girl was one of the 30,000 people who were buried in the city's Odd Fellows Cemetery, which was active for 30 years before it was forced to shut in 1890. The bodies were moved to a Colma burial plot in the 1920s to allow for redevelopment - but the little girl in the long white dress and lavender flowers in her hair was left behind. There were no markings on the coffin to identify the girl, who is now being called Miranda after she was discovered on May 9.
But Karner was soon surprised to find out from the medical examiner's office that the child was now her responsibility. The city refused to take custody of the body, but the problems only continued when Karner tried to have the girl reburied. Karner was told she needed a death certificate to obtain a burial permit for the girl. A Colma undertaker was willing to take the body - for a cool $7,000. An East Bay archaeological company's price was even steeper at $22,000.
Meanwhile, the coffin was laying in Karner's backyard, the seal broken and time running out. 'It didn't seem right,' Karner told the San Francisco Chronicle. 'The city decided to move all these bodies 100 years ago, and they should stand behind their decision.'
Karner, who is currently living in Idaho with her family while the house is remodeled, said she felt awful as a mother thinking of the little girl lying alone in her backyard. She considered the girl 'part of her family now'.
City Hall finally put Karner in touch with someone who could help, connecting her to the Garden of Innocence, an organization that provides burials for unidentified children.
Founder, Elissa Davey, who was able to secure the funds needed to have the coffin picked up and temporarily stored in a mortuary refrigerator in Fresno, said they needed to do the 'right thing'. 'That girl was somebody's child,' she said. 'We had to pick her up.' 'If people find out she's lying at a construction site with no one around at night, you can bet somebody is going to steal her. People into the macabre. Into witchcraft.' 'I wanted her out of there.'
Davey hopes to find out Miranda's true identify and rebury her this summer, she told CBS San Francisco. And Davey has hired her niece to build a second maple coffin that will be large enough to hold Miranda in the casket where she was originally laid to rest. 'I don't want her disturbed anymore,' Davey said. 'She's been disturbed enough.'
Source: San Francisco Chronicle/Mail Online