PENROSE, CO – A shocking scene unfolded as investigators entered a Colorado funeral home to find nearly 200 abandoned bodies, the FBI disclosed on Thursday. The gruesome discovery included stacks of partially covered human remains, bodily fluids several inches deep on the floor, and an infestation of flies and maggots throughout the building.
FBI agent Andrew Cohen revealed that out of the discovered bodies, 23 had death dates from 2019 and 61 were from 2020. The remains comprised adults, infants, and fetuses, all stored at room temperature in a neglected building in the small Rocky Mountain town of Penrose.
Describing the scene, Cohen said, “It looked like something you’d like to forget but can’t.” This account was given during a hearing for one of the funeral home’s co-owners.
The investigators also discovered animal remains and bags of packaged concrete. Prosecutors have alleged that some relatives of the deceased were given fake ashes instead of the cremated remains of their loved ones.
In November, police arrested funeral home owners Carie and Jon Hallford in Oklahoma, who had allegedly fled Colorado to avoid prosecution. The bodies were discovered in early October after neighbors reported a foul smell emanating from the building.
The Hallfords face charges of abusing corpses, stealing, laundering money, and forging documents over several years at the Return to Nature Funeral Home. The funeral home was based in Colorado Springs and stored remains in nearby Penrose.
The couple is each charged with approximately 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, five counts of theft, four counts of money laundering, and over 50 counts of forgery. Jon Hallford remains in custody at the El Paso County jail.
Several families who hired Return to Nature to cremate their relatives have reported that the FBI confirmed their remains were among the decaying bodies.
Details on how the bodies were mishandled have not been released due to objections from defense attorneys. The discovery of the bodies has prompted an effort to identify them using fingerprints, dental records, medical hardware, and DNA.