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Family Sues Colorado Funeral Home Over Father’s Fake Ashes After Discovery of 189 ‘Defiled’ Bodies Left to ‘Rot’

Funeral Home Accused of Sending Fakes Ashes, Leaving Bodies to 'Rot'
Source: Unsplash

189 bodies found rotting in funeral home in Colorado.

Nov. 2 2023, Published 3:39 p.m. ET

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A funeral home in Colorado is being sued after nearly 200 decaying bodies were found and families say the owners allegedly allowed the remains of their loved ones to “rot” away while sending them fake ashes.

In October, law enforcement officials received a call about an “abhorrent smell” coming from a building in Penrose, a town around 100 miles south of Denver, the Associated Press reported.

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The smell emanated from Return to Nature Funeral Home and authorities reportedly discovered 189 bodies on the property, officials said.

Since the discovery, officials have been working to identify the bodies and notify impacted families that their loved ones were among the remains found, the AP reported. Some bodies, authorities said, allegedly had been there for years and families were given fake ashes after they were told their loved ones had been cremated.

In the lawsuit, then plaintiffs accuse Return to Nature and its owners, Jon and Carie Hallford, of intentionally inflicting emotional distress, negligence, fraud and violating multiple Colorado laws, among other claims, according to the AP.

Officials said no arrests have been made in the case.

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Andrew Swan, an attorney representing multiple families, told the AP: “In death, these men and women deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. Instead, they were defiled.”

Richard Law, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the families, said he sent his father’s remains to Return to Nature in 2020 after his father died, the AP reported.

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Return to Nature claimed to have cremated Law's father and sent him ashes, but three years later, his father’s body was among those found in the funeral home.

“For nearly three years," Law told the AP, "Return to Nature Funeral Home and the Hallfords allowed my father to rot along with nearly 200 others.”


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