(RepublicanJournal.org) – A couple running a funeral home in Colorado reportedly had 189 decomposing bodies in one of their two locations. Authorities received a call about a bad smell coming from its business front in Penrose, prompting a visit. Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper called the sight they uncovered “horrific.”
Police first contacted Return to Nature funeral home owner Jon Hallford by telephone the day after the odor complaint according to The Guardian. The owner acknowledged the issue but also tried to explain it away by claiming he performed taxidermy at that location.
Halford and his wife offered “green” burial services, which included cremation and body preparation without chemicals like embalming fluids. The company stopped offering cremations in July after the company they had used for the service ended their business relationship and sued them over unpaid bills.
The Halfords had also begun missing tax payments and received an eviction notice for one of their locations before authorities finally intervened. The Department of Regulatory Agencies sent a cease-and-desist notice to the location in Penrose, which was operating without a license, and suspended the company’s license at its other location in Colorado Springs.
Return to Nature’s website indicates that the company is still taking green burial clients. It notes that the state doesn’t require chemical embalming by law, but Colorado does mandate that bodies not buried within 24 hours remain under appropriate refrigeration. The Denver Post indicates that, due to a lax state law, the couple has every right to set up shop somewhere else as long as they haven’t received any criminal charges or state actions against them.
Lawmakers have been working to tighten regulations in light of this and other problems they’ve cited in the industry. The Colorado House passed HR 22-1073, which allows authorities full access to registered funeral homes anytime during regular business hours. Before 2022, there were no regulations in the state allowing surprise inspections in funeral establishments.
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