Nearly 200 Abandoned Corpses Found in Colorado Funeral Home Nightmare

Nearly 200 Abandoned Corpses Found in Colorado Funeral Home Nightmare-1

In the small town of Penrose, Colorado, a horrifying scene unfolded at a funeral home, revealing a gruesome truth far beyond anyone's worst nightmares. Investigators stumbled upon more than 180 abandoned bodies, exposing a tale of neglect, desperation, and deceit that sent shockwaves through the community. 

A Horrifying Discovery

A chilling scene awaited FBI agents at the Return to Nature Funeral Home. The air was thick with the smell of decay as investigators found stacks of human remains infested with flies and maggots. The grotesque discovery included the bodies of adults, infants, and even fetuses stored at room temperature in a building neglected to the point of ruin.

During a hearing for one of the funeral home's co-owners, Andrew Cohen said, "It looked like something you'd like to forget but can't," as reported by CBS News.

From Green Business to Desperation

Established in 2017, Return to Nature claimed to provide cremation services and environmentally friendly burials foregoing embalming chemicals. The owners, Carie and Jon Hallford, reportedly faced financial issues, including missed tax payments, an eviction, and a lawsuit over unpaid bills from a cremator.

Text exchanges between the Hallfords unveiled a growing panic under the financial strain. Their conversation hinted at desperate measures, contemplating the disposal of bodies in unethical ways.

In a 2020 exchange, Jon Hallford messaged his wife that they needed to get rid of the bodies, according to Kevin Clark, an investigator with the district attorney's office. 

The message read, "Options: A, build a new machine ASAP. B, dig a big hole and use lye. Where? C, dig a small hole and build a large fire. Where? D, I go to prison, which is probably going to happen," as reported by CBS News.

Legal Repercussions

The Hallfords now face a litany of charges, including corpse abuse, theft, and forgery. Their arrest in Oklahoma marked the beginning of legal proceedings that promised to unveil the full extent of their misdeeds. The community's trust, once placed in their care, now lies shattered amid the allegations of fake ashes and unfulfilled promises of dignified farewells.

The Victims and Their Families

Among the neglected was a former Army sergeant whose body was recovered after a misleading burial by the Hallfords. The sergeant was later given a funeral with full military honors at Pikes Peak National Cemetery. Families, once entrusting the Hallfords with their loved ones' final journey, are now left grappling with betrayal and heartache. The effort to identify the victims continues.

Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller commented to ABC News, "We are conducting extensive coordination efforts as we focus on the identification of the decedents and provide notifications to ensure the families are given accurate information to prevent further victimization as they continue to grieve their loved ones."

References: Stacked bodies and maggots discovered at neglected Colorado funeral home, FBI agent says | Funeral home owners arrested after 189 decomposing bodies found inside.

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