Funeral Home Lied About Green Burials Leaving Nearly 200 Bodies Neglected
A funeral home in Colorado has been caught in a lie of its green burials for the deceased loved ones of grieving families. Instead of conducting the process, nearly 200 bodies were left in a decayed state as the business fell into financial trouble, only to be discovered by a search warrant on Oct. 4.
Return to Nature Funeral Home, located in the town of Penrose, was caught leaving bodies in a state of neglect, after neighbors to the establishment’s office complained about a smell emerging out of the 2,500-square-foot premises. According to the Associated Press, the business had itself fallen into neglect, being evicted from another property, as well sued by a crematory for unpaid bills.
Although the initial number of bodies recovered was 115, the amount of deceased rose exponentially to 189 as identification continues. The business was supposed to complete green burials, which is the process of using no embalming fluid, as well as cremation for the deceased individuals under the funeral home’s care. While the state of Colorado allows green burials, all bodies must be refrigerated within 24 hours if not buried.
Currently, families are now concerned on whether or not their loved ones’ bodies have been neglected to the point of inhumane condition. The owners, married couple John and Carie Hallford, dodged questions at first regarding updates on the burial processes, with John blaming the “problem” on his taxidermy habit. However, upon law enforcement discovering of the multiple remains, the duo are cooperating with police as the investigation into the unusual matter unfolds.
The ordeal also sheds light on the neglect from Colorado on funeral home qualifications and upkeep, as the state regulators did not inspect the business until nearly a year after its registration expired. With no additional funding allocated to inspections, which are now legal to pursue without the owner’s approval, situations such as these could become more common.
While all the bodies were removed from the grounds by Oct. 13, the Fremont police did announce that a full recovery of their identities could potentially take weeks due to the various methods being utilized, such a fingerprint matching and DNA testing.
Officials from the Fremont Police Department have stated that they are dealing with the identification of bodies and subsequent notification to their families delicately, as they want to ensure all victims are handled correctly.