Prosecutor lays out slew of charges against green funeral home owners who allegedly abandoned nearly 200 bodies

The owners of a “green” funeral home where hundreds of bodies were found late last year are finally being held accountable in court.

BizPac Review reported in October that at least 115 (now estimated at nearly 200) decomposing/decaying bodies were found at the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado. At the time, the authorities were only interested in investigating the matter, not arresting/prosecuting anyone. Months later, things have changed.

Owners Jon and Carie Hallford are now facing hundreds of felony charges.

“The charges include 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, 61 counts of forgery and four counts of both theft and money laundering,” according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.

While testifying against them this week in court, FBI special agent Andrew Cohen revealed that the two had used the money they’d received to cremate or bury their clients to instead buy lavish goods for themselves.

“Cohen testified that the Hallfords bought two cars, including a GMC Yukon that cost over $90,000, with money from the business,” The Gazette notes.

He also testified that this was more than enough money to cremate all the 189 decomposing bodies that were found at the green funeral home.

Why didn’t they cremate the bodies? It certainly wasn’t out of ignorance.

“Some of the Hallfords’ business was conducted appropriately, the arrest affidavit states, and there were some arrangements made for proper cremations. Investigators claim that supports the fact that the Hallfords ‘knew how a funeral home business was supposed to run,'” local station KMGH notes.

Dovetailing back to Cohen, he also testified that the Hallfords had used the income earned from their fraudulent business to fund “[t]raveling, entertainment, bars, restaurants and crypto currency investments,” according to The Gazette.

“Cohen specifically highlighted how the Hallfords once used the funds from the Return to Nature business to pay for a $1,500 dinner in Las Vegas in February, 2022,” The Gazette notes.

According to KMGH, the Hallfords also spent $19,000 on Amazon purchases, $6,800 on a trip to California, $7,100 on a trip to Florida, $9,000 on a trip to Las Vegas, $31,000 on cryptocurrency, $7,700 on Expedia.com, $1,600 on Gucci products, $3,400 on jewelry, and $8,500 on laser body sculpting.

All this is now known thanks to an unknown bystander reporting to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office in October that they’d smelled an “odor” coming from the Return to Nature Funeral Home.

After the authorities obtained a warrant, they entered the facility and found over 100 bodies improperly strewn about. The scene was so “horrific” that the FCSO then requested help from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to local station KRDO.

“Without providing too much detail to avoid further victimizing these families, the funeral home where the bodies were improperly stored was horrific,” Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper said during a press conference.

Hazmat teams reportedly had to be involved as well.

“During the initial entry of the building, [Fremont County coroner Randy] Keller confirmed a deputy coroner sustained a rash of some type from ‘something’ in the building. She received medical care and is fine now, but Keller said this is why hazmat has to be in the building and determine the next steps before the investigation can move forward,” KRDO noted.

The Hallfords are now scheduled to go to trial in March. The victims’ families are pleased though still deeply hurting.

“It’s a huge strain, losing somebody unexpectedly. And then to somewhat come to grips with that, and four years later learn that we don’t even have her ashes… I can’t even explain the toll it’s taken on my family,” Danica Romero, whose big sister Amanda was supposed to be cremated by the funeral home, told KMGH.

“I need to see this through. This is my way of processing and dealing with the fact that my family, along with many others, will probably never have answers,” she added.

Vivek Saxena

Comment

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

Latest Articles