145-year-old coffin with young girl found under a House

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The red rose is still visible between the hands of the young girl, buried 145 years ago in a coffin that was recently discovered 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 three-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 180,000 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 - a name picked by Karner's two daughters - 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 Miranda, 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'.

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