Police found nearly 200 rotting corpses inside Colorado funeral home, court hears

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By VT

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The details of a gruesome discovery at the Return to Nature funeral home in Colorado have emerged in court.

The remains of nearly 190 individuals, including children, babies, and fetuses, were found in a state of advanced decomposition, covered in flies, and surrounded by pools of bodily fluids, per the Associated Press.

The horrifying incident came to light when locals reported a foul odor emanating from the abandoned building, leading the police to investigate on October 4.

The scene they encountered was beyond imagination, with partially covered corpses, swarms of flies and maggots, and a pool of bodily fluids six inches deep.

Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent Andrew Cohen, who was tasked with examining the scene, described it as something unforgettable.

The remains were stored at room temperature in a derelict building on the 1.9-acre site, with bags of concrete also discovered. Shockingly, many families received urns filled with powder instead of the cremated remains of their loved ones.

Cohen revealed that 23 of the bodies dated back to 2019, and 61 were from 2020. The decomposed fluids had stained the once-cream-colored floor dark brown, and investigators had to use cardboard to avoid slipping on the thick decomposition fluids.

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Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent Andrew Cohen, who was tasked with examining the scene, described it as something unforgettable. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Countless insects, including maggots, had infested the building to such an extent that the plain-colored carpet appeared patterned. Photos from the scene showed bags bursting open, spilling bodily remains.

The court also saw stills from a functional surveillance system inside the funeral home, showing Jon Hallford, one of the operators, surrounded by decomposing bodies in the month leading up to the discovery.

The FBI found that Jon Hallford had purchased almost a ton of concrete powder over several years, although there were no corresponding construction projects.

The Hallfords fled the state after the initial discovery but were arrested the following month in Oklahoma. They faced a range of charges, including abuse of corpses, forgery, theft, and money laundering.

Authorities suspect that financial difficulties drove the mistreatment of the bodies, as the Hallfords had accumulated substantial debt and faced lawsuits from suppliers. The couple had opened Return to Nature in 2017, offering environmentally friendly burials without embalming fluids and cremation services.

The FBI used DNA, fingerprints, and dental records to identify the corpses, with several dozen remaining unidentified. Families affected by this horrific incident expressed their grief, anger, and trauma, as their loved ones' remains had been left to rot for years.

Local officials plan to demolish the building where the bodies were found in the coming days. Colorado has previously seen cases of shocking funeral home mismanagement, including illegal body part sales and unlawful cremations, highlighting the need for increased oversight in the industry.

Featured image credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Police found nearly 200 rotting corpses inside Colorado funeral home, court hears

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

The details of a gruesome discovery at the Return to Nature funeral home in Colorado have emerged in court.

The remains of nearly 190 individuals, including children, babies, and fetuses, were found in a state of advanced decomposition, covered in flies, and surrounded by pools of bodily fluids, per the Associated Press.

The horrifying incident came to light when locals reported a foul odor emanating from the abandoned building, leading the police to investigate on October 4.

The scene they encountered was beyond imagination, with partially covered corpses, swarms of flies and maggots, and a pool of bodily fluids six inches deep.

Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent Andrew Cohen, who was tasked with examining the scene, described it as something unforgettable.

The remains were stored at room temperature in a derelict building on the 1.9-acre site, with bags of concrete also discovered. Shockingly, many families received urns filled with powder instead of the cremated remains of their loved ones.

Cohen revealed that 23 of the bodies dated back to 2019, and 61 were from 2020. The decomposed fluids had stained the once-cream-colored floor dark brown, and investigators had to use cardboard to avoid slipping on the thick decomposition fluids.

size-full wp-image-1263244129
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent Andrew Cohen, who was tasked with examining the scene, described it as something unforgettable. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Countless insects, including maggots, had infested the building to such an extent that the plain-colored carpet appeared patterned. Photos from the scene showed bags bursting open, spilling bodily remains.

The court also saw stills from a functional surveillance system inside the funeral home, showing Jon Hallford, one of the operators, surrounded by decomposing bodies in the month leading up to the discovery.

The FBI found that Jon Hallford had purchased almost a ton of concrete powder over several years, although there were no corresponding construction projects.

The Hallfords fled the state after the initial discovery but were arrested the following month in Oklahoma. They faced a range of charges, including abuse of corpses, forgery, theft, and money laundering.

Authorities suspect that financial difficulties drove the mistreatment of the bodies, as the Hallfords had accumulated substantial debt and faced lawsuits from suppliers. The couple had opened Return to Nature in 2017, offering environmentally friendly burials without embalming fluids and cremation services.

The FBI used DNA, fingerprints, and dental records to identify the corpses, with several dozen remaining unidentified. Families affected by this horrific incident expressed their grief, anger, and trauma, as their loved ones' remains had been left to rot for years.

Local officials plan to demolish the building where the bodies were found in the coming days. Colorado has previously seen cases of shocking funeral home mismanagement, including illegal body part sales and unlawful cremations, highlighting the need for increased oversight in the industry.

Featured image credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty