US: Owner, wife of funeral home arrested after 189 decaying bodies recovered from facility

The owner of a funeral home in the US state of Colorado and his wife were arrested on Wednesday (November 8, 2023) after decaying remains of at least 189 people were recovered from the facility recently.

Owner, wife of a US funeral home arrested after 189 decaying bodies recovered from facility. Photo Courtesy: Return to Nature Colorado Instagram page

Jon and Carie Hallford were arrested in Oklahoma on suspicion of committing the crimes of abuse of a corpse, theft, money laundering and forgery, which are all felonies, reports CBS News.

The arrests were made in Wagoner, in eastern Oklahoma, and the Hallfords were being held on a $2 million cash bond, the news channel reported.

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office started investigating after neighbours reported an odour emanating from the Penrose facility on October 4.

Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller told CBS News 110 individuals have been positively identified and work is ongoing to identify 80 more.

“Individuals are being identified through fingerprints, dental records, and medical hardware. Once we have exhausted these methods, we will move on to DNA testing, if necessary,” said Keller.

Chrystina Page, whose son was among those decedents found inside the funeral home last month, told the American news channel, “We will never know what our families are actually carrying. Some of them may be concrete dust, some of them may be other things… we won’t ever know so I can’t even describe the emotions our families are going through.”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued a statement following the arrest of the individuals where he said: “I am relieved that criminal charges have been brought against the funeral home owner and a criminal investigation is proceeding.”

“I know this will not bring peace to the families impacted by this heart-wrenching incident but we hope the individuals responsible are held fully accountable in a court of law,” he said.