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Funeral home investigated for 'improperly storing' 115 human remains

Allegedly improperly stored human remains were found at the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado.
Funeral home investigated for 'improperly storing' 115 human remains
Posted at 2:39 PM, Oct 06, 2023

The FBI and multiple agencies are investigating the alleged improper storage of more than 115 different human remains at Return to Nature Funeral Home after they were discovered in a search of the property in Penrose, Colorado.

Investigators are encouraging families who worked with the funeral home to reach out to a hotline or stop by an office location for more information.

"The area of the funeral home where the bodies were improperly stored was horrific," Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper said.

Cooper said there have not been any arrests and wouldn't speculate about arrests or possible charges at this time.

"Late Thursday night, Colorado Gov. Polis issued a verbal disaster declaration for the Penrose incident, and today [he] received confirmation that that disaster declaration is in place," Cooper added.

The Associated Press reports state regulators sent the owner a suspension letter, which said the owner had tried to conceal the improper storage of corpses. He said he had been practicing animal taxidermy, according to the letter.

SEE MORE: Funeral home knew something was off when it received decapitated baby

"With the number of decedents we have in this facility and the identification process that needs to be completed, this could take several months," Randy Keller, the Fremont County coroner, told reporters.

Fremont County Sheriff's Deputies were called to the building for a suspicious incident on Tuesday. The following day, Fremont investigators, representatives from the county coroner's office, and the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies searched the property and found human remains inside that were "improperly stored."

Return to Nature Funeral Home is owned by Jon Hallford and his wife Kerry Hallford. Scripps News Colorado Springs has been unable to contact the couple who run the business that is based in Colorado Springs.

Tammi Kincaid runs He Loves Me Florist in Colorado Springs and works closely with the Hallfords' business. She says she's close friends and said Jon Hallford officiated her daughter's wedding and agreed to officiate her upcoming nuptials. Kincaid tells Scripps News Colorado that the Hallfords were visiting family last weekend in Oklahoma and she had not heard from them since Friday.

"He has worked really hard. They are amazing. They do great work and I believe in what they believe, in non-chemical embalming, they don't put stuff in our drinking water," Kincaid said regarding  the funeral home's green burial practices.

This article was originally published by Megan Cloherty, Aidan Hulting and Marcus Cocova at Scripps News Colorado Springs.

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