Child’s casket found underneath home near Rossi Park

In yet another reminder of the Richmond District’s morbid past, a construction crew unearthed the casket of a small girl while renovating a home near Rossi Park last week.

The casket was found underneath the garage of the home, which belongs to Ericka Karner, who grew up there.

Officials believe the casket is a leftover from the former Odd Fellows Cemetery which was located where Rossi Park now is. The city began dismantling the cemetery in 1933 and remains were moved to Colma.

But not all of them made the transition, and on occasion, remains are found around the area during construction projects.

Karner wanted to re-bury the casket of the girl, who has been named “Miranda” since there are no identifying marks on the casket. But the city told her she couldn’t get a burial permit without a death certificate.

“And we couldn’t get one,” Karner said. “So that put us in a position of unfortunately having this individual in our backyard and feeling awful as a mom knowing this is a small child,” she told KPIX-5.

An organization called Garden of Innocence, which provides burials for abandoned children, has stepped in to help Karner with the re-burial.

Sarah B.

Little girl, rose still in hand, found in coffin beneath SF home

A crew works to remove the bodies from Odd Fellows Cemetery, December 26, 1933. This is now the site of Rossi Playground.

A crew works to remove the bodies from Odd Fellows Cemetery, December 26, 1933.
This is now the site of Rossi Playground.


  1. probably the official City response is “leave the bones out for the coyotes”

  2. How inane is that? What was the homeowner suppose to do with the casket? It is only decent and proper that that child receives a burial.

  3. Leave it to the wonderful city of San Francisco to screw up stuff forever..Need a Death Certificate in order to be buried..but where these records that San Francisco is supposed to keep? The city is the ultimate failure!

  4. That doesn’t appear to be a pauper’s casket. There has to be a record of it somewhere.

  5. It would take some digging (hehehe) but it shouldn’t be too hard to find out who the girl is. The old cemetery records are at the Main Library. Overlay a current map of the house with the cemetery map and you’ll narrow it down to a dozen or so graves.

  6. I don’t understand how the city makes this the homeowner’s problem. They should have the records and they were responsible for moving the cemeteries. Are they really saying they just don’t care – let the homeowner deal with it? It sounds as though someone has a very narrow interpretation of what their job should be.

  7. Most everyone from the Odd Fellows cemetery went to a mass grave in Colma (west of the Home Depot store). You can see the cemetery monument from the parking lot. Not many official records made it through 1906.

  8. The ineptitudes of SF government never ceases to amaze me.

    Just when I think they can’t get any stupider they prove me wrong.

  9. Memo to San Francisco Government

    Do the right thing by finding this girl’s death certificate pronto and rebury her asap.

  10. I’m disturbed by the person taking a photo of the deceased child from the glass pane of the casket with their phone. Very disrespectful.

  11. our city is so full of it. they’ll quickly enact some pay-for-park reservation nonsense for Dolores Park asap, but for this, they’ll fall back into bureaucratic inefficiency.

    Can’t have a burial without a death cert. Can’t get a death cert though because we have no idea who the girl was. Still can’t get a burial permit.

  12. Well if you read the Chronicle yesterday, the City ME came and broke the seal of the casket. The most interesting thing was this little girl was well preserved. According to the article the body was not decomposed. That says a lot about funeral homes in the past. They did a good job.
    However, since the ME broke the glass seal, the homeowner has to resolve this issue fast because the body will break down after the exposure. I really don’t understand why the ME did this and they didn’t even take the body back.

    Sometimes SF is just a bowl full of disappointment.

  13. I was also upset to learn that the medical examiner broke the glass on the coffin after someone preserved this person so well that almost 150 yrs later, even the flowers with her were there. Why would anyone do that? She should have been buried exactly how she was found.

  14. If all avenues fail trying to find who she was starting with Odd Fellows burial records, only other thing I can think of is look for her headstone in Colma. Since the casket was expensive, I suppose she also had a nice headstone too. Might take some looking though, a child around 3 years old that died during when the cemetery was active. 1860-1890. Perhaps some great, great, relative might come forward, rare chance though.

  15. In my view the home owner screwed up. They should have known the city would screw it up. Just do the work on the house, then dig down 8 feet and bury the girl in or near the same location. Make up a nice little brass plate and put it in the garage floor. She would look over the house and its occupants.

  16. While searching for anymore updates on the SF little girl casket, I found a totally amazing story of another little girl that was embalmed in 1920.
    Search: Rosalia Lombardo

  17. Is this too crazy? that little girl was buried in that spot just before they laid the concrete foundation of the Rossi St. house, about 1935? perhaps the first owners of the house wanted their deceased child to be forever close. I’d imagine, coffins like that were pretty common in that time and embalming techniques were probably more advanced than the 1880’s.

  18. We have a baby girl buried there about the same time. Who took the DNA samples?

  19. Very interesting story. However, many “wrongs” occurred:
    1. Home owners should have just buried her where she was found, just dig a bit deeper.
    2. The medical examiner had no right to break the seal of the coffin and disturb this little girl who was buried before 1890.
    3. Naming this child “Miranda” what an insult. In that era Miranda was not a name used. The name should have left out until her real name is found…but if one has to give a name to unknown,, how about ‘Rose”…considering the rose in her hand and inside the coffin the many rose petal leaves.
    It seems the only “correct” action was burying her in her original coffin which was placed in a wooden casket that was made big enough to hold her first coffin.
    Identity Issues: Facts:
    1. She was dressed,(lace long white dress) groomed [(lavender flowers in hair), embalmed in a superior manner, an expensive coffin. Therefore child was from a rich family. That would us to believe there will be records found about her death/burial.
    2. Considering the expert style embalming, this suggests she was buried later than anticipated by the records of the dissection of Odd Fellows cemetery. This type of embalming technique was used after 1900 (see Rosalinda Lombardo info). Therefore, a possibility is that she was buried on private property (family residence), as at that time, the rich were often allowed to bury family members on their property. Possibly a way to find out about her death is finding old records of “high-end” funeral homes/embalmers in the late 1800’s , ear;y 1900’s.
    3. The “map”, burial plot listings could be checked to look for child burials, family owned series of plots, or the location matching the area of the house and see if information for that area indicates a child plot.
    I realize this is a lot of work to find out who she is, but I feel discovering this information would be well worth the effort.

  20. Recent information just discovered. The coffin was manufactured 1958 or later, therefore the girl was most likely buried 1858 – to before 1890 when cemetery was closed. Also, many people are asking what a 3 year old would have died of at that time. Flu, pneumonia, viral infections and viral leukemia. One has to keep in mind, during that time frame penicillin, antibiotics, etc were not yet discovered. I was also advised the cemetery maps are being used during this investigation, and the area where this house was built indicates about 5 children buried in that area under the age of 5. I feel her identity will be solved soon. I just hope the “research team” does not give up before the answer is revealed.

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