Among other allegations, the proprietors of a funeral home in Colorado are suspected of providing sham cremated remains to certain bereaved families.
Wednesday, Jan and Carie Hallford were apprehended by law enforcement in Oklahoma. Some of the 190 sets of decaying remains discovered by authorities in the couple's Penrose funerary home last month date back to 2019.
They are being investigated for fraud, theft, money laundering, and mistreatment of a deceased person, among other allegations. On October 4, neighbours reported smelling a foul odour coming from the Return to Nature Funeral Home, which prompted the authorities to open an investigation into the establishment.
Upon entering, investigators discovered "horrendous" conditions containing dozens of piled bodies, some of which had been there for years. Wednesday at a press conference, District Attorney Michael Allen stated that in order to safeguard the ongoing investigation, authorities would not be disclosing many details.
He used the phrase "tabsolutely shocking" to characterise the particulars of the case. In addition, it is thought that some family got fake cremated ashes of their loved ones who had passed away.
According to court documents obtained by the sources, law enforcement is now aware that the cremains provided to each family cannot have belonged to their loved one. This information was found in the filings.
The FBI has reached out to families and requested that they provide samples of the ashes that were recovered for analysis by investigators.
Chrystina Page, whose son's remains were discovered within the funerary home, told sources that they will never know the true burdens that their families are bearing as some of them might be concrete dust, while others might be something else.
Chrystina also mentioned that she cannot even begin to fathom the emotions all families are experiencing.
Mr. and Mrs. Hallford are incarcerated on a cash surety of $2 million (£1.6 million). They are charged with over fifty counts of forgery, five counts of larceny, four counts of money laundering, and approximately 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, all of which are felonies, according to their arrest warrant.
On November 9, they are expected to make their initial appearance in court in relation to a federal fleeing charge. On October 13, all deceased individuals present at the funeral home in Colorado were extracted and subsequently conveyed to the El Paso County Coroner's Office.
Randy Keller, coroner of Fremont County, stated that although 110 bodies have been positively identified, the remaining 80 remain to be identified.
Mr. Keller mentioned that if necessary, fingerprints, dental records, medical devices, and DNA analysis are being used to identify bodies. In the aftermath of Hallford's arrest, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued the following statement: "I am relieved that the proprietor of the funeral home has been charged with a crime and that a criminal investigation is underway. “Even while I am aware that this would not bring any comfort to the families who have been impacted by this terrible occurrence, we ardently want that those guilty are held fully culpable in a legal system.”