Funeral Home Owners Arrested in Discovery of Decaying Corpses


Still from Dead Silence, James Wan, 2007

Jon and Carie Hallford, the co-owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado were arrested earlier this month on felony charges, including abuse of a corpse, forgery, money laundering, and theft. Both are now being held on a $2 million dollar bond in the El Paso County Jail.

NPR reports that the investigation into the funeral home kicked off on October 3rd when officers responded to complaints of foul odors coming from the premises. Fremont County Sheriff, Allen Cooper declined to elaborate regarding the department’s findings but did say that the discovery was “horrific”.

Located 30 miles south of Colorado Springs, the Return to Nature Funeral Home purports to be an eco-friendly alternative to conventional burial, allowing people to decompose underground without metals or the use of harsh chemicals involved with conventional burial. Sadly, the organization was not fulfilling their obligation to the deceased or their loved ones.

A total of 190 corpses were found onsite, all of which were improperly stored. Reports from law enforcement reveal that the establishment’s floors were lined with a combination of insects and human decomposition fluids.

Fingerprints and other identifying characteristics have been used to reunite several of the cadavers with loved ones so that proper burial can be arranged. However, returning all of the unidentified corpses with surviving family is expected to take months.

Possibly even more disturbing are emerging accusations that the institution created false cremation records and gave families counterfeit ashes comprised of dry concrete.

The probable cause affidavit that led to the arrest of the funeral home’s proprietors has been sealed by District Attorney Michael Allen. However, the DA suggests that he may be willing to unseal the file at a later date. Allen was quick to warn that the information contained within the affidavit is “shocking”.

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