Mom Renovates Childhood Home, Then Finds Mysterious Coffin Buried Underneath

When Ericka Karner was in the middle of renovating her childhood home, contractors could not believe what they uncovered under her garage. It was a small glass and wooden box — the coffin of a small child.

There was no way to identify who the little girl inside was. Ericka decided to nicknamed her “Miranda.”

The casket was believed to be around 120 years old, when the area was formerly Odd Fellows Cemetery. It relocated in the 1930s. Most of the bodies were excavated and reburied.

However, not all of the remains were uncovered.

Being a mom herself, Ericka wanted to send the girl off correctly. She tried to take the coffin to be reburied, but the city would not give her a burial permit without the child’s death certificate. Without any information about the girl, there was no way for Ericka to get one.

An organization that gives burials to unidentified children, called Garden of Innocence, stepped up to help Ericka determine the child’s identity.

The coffin was tightly sealed, so the decomposition was slowed down considerably — in fact, the child was nearly perfectly preserved. She had purple flowers threaded through her hair and a white christening dress made of lace. After a year of DNA testing, researching a state database, and 1,000 man-hours combined, they were able to figure out who the child was.

They determined her name was Edith Howard Cook. She died on October 13, 1876, at 2 years old. The cause was malnourishment caused by an infection. The Garden of Innocence will hold a summer memorial for the girl with a proper tombstone.

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