Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information. I didnt believe in depression until I lost my baby, Cavanagh said. Some former staff members of Sunset Mesa said they never heard Hess disclose to donors that the bodies would be sold for profit. The suspension order details a 2019 instance in which an unnamed individual arranged with Kents funeral home for the cremation of their stillborn child. DENVER -- To many it is simply the unthinkable. Chantal Reh, an Avon resident, went through a similar experience when she suffered a stillborn birth in August 2018. Connie Hansons sons body parts were also allegedly sold. At the focal point of the FBI probe: funeral director Megan Hess, who did not return Fox News request for a comment. Donating bodies, selling the parts: Frequently asked questions. She said, No, no, well take care of that first thing in the morning, recalled Eberspacher. That individual, referred to in the order only as E.W., received no notice that the cremation would be done at the Gypsum funeral home, one of six locations Kent operates in Colorados high country. Its not something that can be fixed., Hancock was notified by the FBI that her husbands body parts had been sold without her consent. See here for a complete list of exchanges and delays. "Our sweet mother, they dismembered her," Erin Smith said, selling her shoulders, knees and feet for profit. Subscribe to Funeral Director Daily As she mourned the loss of her son, Cavanagh was referred to the Kent Funeral Home in Gypsum to do the cremation. The allegations of offering free services and then selling body parts without the knowledge of the client family is beyond my scope of thinking as to what funeral directors should be doing. There are people and businesses who spend millions and millions of dollars," Teselle added, "trafficking in these body parts as if they were nothing more than cans of soup or loaves of bread., I was pretty shocked, said Jacque Hampson, a former employee of the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose. The Daily Sentinel reports that Megan Hess faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison after entering the plea Tuesday in Grand Junction. Ducks, Used body bags, medical gloves and other surgical equipment with dried bodily fluid on them piled on the floor, Bodily fluids leaking out of a body bag containing an individual who had not been refrigerated, A container of animal remains leaking fluids, Several bodies in refrigeration wrapped in sheets or blankets without identifying tags or paperwork, An unmarked casket containing a stillborn infant that was abandoned, the suspension order states, Paperwork scattered several feet deep on the floor. The scope of Sunset Mesa Funeral Home and Donor Services remains unclear at this time while investigators are trying to get a handle on that issue. Colorado regulators can now inspect funeral homes and crematories without owners' permission The state has long had some of the laxest laws in the nation surrounding funeral homes Joe. (Reuters) -A former Colorado funeral home owner was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Tuesday for defrauding relatives of the dead by dissecting 560 corpses and selling body parts. The Colorado Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration has no employees dedicated solely to it and an annual budget of less than $85,000. This whole situation, oh, I thought it was part of my past.. You know, they can't put his head back on his body, they can't put his arms and legs back on his body. Think about it, the FBI came in and raided them, and they raided them because they knew this body broker this was getting bigger and bigger and bigger, said Berg. Part 8: Former workers describe troubling practices at this mortuary-body broker, including allegations of deceptive marketing and an account of how gold dental work was removed from corpses and sold. MONTROSE, Colo. (CBS4) - Federal authorities raided a funeral home in Montrose on Tuesday, at which the owner is under investigation for a side-business donating bodies for education and. Koch's central role was chopping up the bodies, court records show. Kent also still faces second-degree official misconduct charges stemming from a September 2019 grand jury indictment in the Fifth Judicial District. After reading the states suspension order this week, two women told The Denver Post that the circumstances surrounding E.W. sound eerily familiar. In cases like Schum's, where a family did agree to donate a body part, Hess sold more than she had permission to. I thought it was something that needs to be corrected," said state Senator Larry Crowder, one of the bills sponsors. Thousands more patients could benefit from life saving and healing eye and tissue donations.. Megan Hess, 46, pleaded guilty to fraud in July 2022 after a 2018 investigation that exposed her for selling parts of dead bodies that were brought to the funeral home for cremation. He covers everything from stolen art and towing to mobile homes and quirky stories that defy category. . felt they were too heavy to be those of a stillborn child, and submitted them for analysis. It only investigates a funeral home if a complaint is filed, he said. (REUTERS). Im not interested. . However, there was more going on beneath the surface. Why Donor Services was unable to trace Dunlaps head remains unclear. In an interview in 2016, she described Donor Services as a small, family business. Give Light and the People Will Find Their Own Way. A human head and spine sold for $850, while a full pelvis all the way to the toes priced out at $2,850. Denver attorneys Mike Berg and Dave Teselle now represent more than 50 families who claim Hess and her parents victimized them. Thats when E.W. Staci Kent arrived to one of those death scenes without a body bag, which spurred an argument with authorities, the indictment notes. Thank you, she said before ending the call. Finally Reh and her boyfriend went to the funeral home with the expectation that they would see their baby. Hes already facing charges of official misconduct and perjury stemming from allegations last year that he sent his wife Staci to multiple death scenes even though she wasnt authorized to serve as a deputy coroner. She showed Denver7 the container that she was given. A pelvis with upper legs went for $1,200, heads for $500, a knee for $250, and a foot for $125, according to a 2013 Donor Services price list reviewed by Reuters. Her 69-year-old mother, Shirley Koch, also pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to 15 years. I go to sleep with the visions of him being dismembered with a power saw, said Ruthie Pettyjohn, whose sons body parts were allegedly sold. Koch told the judge she was sorry and took responsibility for her actions. Instead of paying the standard $695 cremation fee to . A grand jury indictment said that from 2010 through 2018, Hess and Koch offered to cremate bodies and provide the remains to families at a cost of $1,000 or more, but many of the cremations never occurred. Records from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies showthis was not the first time Kent has been in the crosshairs of state regulators. The industry leader for online information for tax, accounting and finance professionals. According to theDenver Post, prosecutors reached a plea agreement with Hess this year regarding a 2020 indictment against her and her mother. Records from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies showthis was not the first time Kent has been in the crosshairs of state regulators. All rights reserved. SCI 4Q Revenue and Year End Revenue lower than comparables, Funeral Director Daily, The business of Funeral Care. At Donor Services, her body parts business, Hess can generate a greater return on the dead, a different price list reviewed by Reuters showed. Other charges against Hess will be dropped under a plea agreement, the Sentinel said. Legal Statement. Peck was given another six months of probation. When asked if it contained her husbands cremains, she said, I dont know.. Bankman-Fried can have flip phone, limited internet while on bail, US proposes, Biden assembles team of allies to boost re-election campaign, Reporting by John Shiffman; Editing by Paul Simao and Richard Chang, Michigan judge dismisses school staff as defendants in lawsuits over mass shooting, American Airlines, flight attendants union seek mediation in contract negotiations, Macron ends Africa tour with wish for fair reset of ties, Turkey's Erdogan dismisses opposition split and says his ruling alliance will stay on same path, Turkey's pro-Kurdish party calls for opposition unity after split, In Turkey's quake-devasted city of Antakya, an antiques seller is determined to stay put, Eni agrees deal with UAE's ADNOC as Italy rebuilds relationship, Exclusive news, data and analytics for financial market professionals. State Bans Coroner Shannon Kent From Private Business After Remains, Waste Found At Home-Based Colorado Funeral Home December 3, 2020 / 7:33 AM / CBS Colorado E.W. Other charges against Hess will . The owner of the funeral homes, Shannon Kent, is also Lake Countys coroner. A price quote Hess sent to an Arizona medical training lab in 2016 offered torsos for $1,000 each. Reuters Investigates offers several ways to securely contact our reporters. The focus and extent of the federal probe into the Hess operation is unclear, and the FBI also declined to comment. After reading the states suspension order this week, two women told The Denver Post that the circumstances surrounding E.W. sound eerily familiar. Build the strongest argument relying on authoritative content, attorney-editor expertise, and industry defining technology. During her speech at Diamond's funeral, her partner in crime, Silk, implied that there was foul play involved in her death and urged for an investigation. According to the Johnstown, N.Y. Police Department, Brian M. Barnett, 35, who owns the since-shuttered Ehle . Former workers told Reuters that Hess and Koch conducted unauthorized dismemberments of bodies, and a few weeks after a 2018 story was published, the FBI raided the business. The price list is from an Arizona company shut down after an FBI raid five years ago. Ive had nightmares about it, said Fredericka Freddie Hancock. Colorado is nicknamed the "Centennial State" because when it became the 38th state, the United States turned 100 on August 1, 1876. In mid-March, Kent received a letter of admonition" from the Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration after unembalmed, unrefrigerated remains were found in the Gypsum funeral home over 24 hours after the person had died. She mentioned on several occasions about how much money she would be getting per month, which blew my mind, said Jennifer Henderson, a former floral designer for Sunset Mesa. Hess had created a nonprofit organization in 2009 called Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation as a body-broker service doing business as Donor Services, authorities said. MONTROSE, Colorado The Federal Bureau of Investigation is interviewing former employees of a funeral home whose owner runs a side business on the same premises selling human body parts. Both Hess and Koch originally had pleaded not guilty to the charges. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. ThinkStock via Getty Images. The federal case was triggered by a 2016-2018 Reuters investigative series about the sale of body parts in the United States, a virtually unregulated industry. Responding to the investigations and details reported out of Montrose, Colorado lawmakers could become the first in the country to pass a law making it illegal for funeral home or crematory owners to operate as a body broker. Officials also found the "post-cremation remains" of 16 people, according . In Colorado and most other states, it also is legal for funeral homes to sell items recovered from dead bodies, such as gold dental work. After receiving the cremains, E.W. One ex-employee, Kari Escher, said she was especially troubled by the practices of Hesss mother, Shirley Koch, who works at the facility. That means almost anyone, regardless of expertise, can dissect and sell human remains. 06, 2021. His head and his arms from his elbows to his fingers, his legs from his knees to his toes, had been removed from his body and they had been sold.. Reuters began examining the Hess companies more than a year ago as part of the news agencys exploration of the human body trade, a virtually unregulated industry that largely operates in the shadows. I'll never be OK.". SENTINEL FILE PHOTO Sisters Layna and Janet Hutt hold photos of their father, Raymond Hutt, who died in 2016 at the age of 96. Like many, Hanson found out about her son Frederick during a phone call from an FBI agent. Kent also still faces second-degree official misconduct charges stemming from a September 2019 grand jury indictment in the Fifth Judicial District. [wpforms id=436 title=true description=true]. Burg and Teselles law firm is currently suing body brokers in both Colorado and Arizona. Golden Gate Funeral Home in Dallas is accused of a range of misdeeds, from not embalming or refrigerating bodies in a . Extra charges are assessed if a body is embalmed or a funeral director is involved. It was kinda creepy., It is totally unregulated, said Burg. The body was identified by fingerprints as Victor Akubuo, 42, from Southern . All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. The home, located at 8215 W. Summerdale Ave., was sold for just shy of $400,000 in May 2021. Another alleged victim said her mothers body was desecrated. This all began when a severely decomposed body was reported by a state health inspector. Seeing how this chapter is opening up again is incredible, its unbelievable. The Green Funeral. I just figured it was a legitimate business., When asked by Denver7 if she ever heard bodies being dismembered, Hampson said, you could hear the machine going. Asked if that machine was a saw, she said, Yes, you could hear that in the room (a back room at the funeral home). This comes after a dozen . MILLERSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) A Lancaster County funeral home and its director are facing formal disciplinary action and are under investigation by the state. The conflict of interest of having a side business in body parts just leads to problems. by Mr. Leadville | Oct 26, 2020 | Leadville News. I didnt believe in depression until I lost my baby, Cavanagh said. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper. Leave a sympathy message to the family on the memorial page of Charles Lynch to pay them a last tribute. Telling stories that matter in a dynamic, evolving state. "No, I did not," Hancock responded. Reached by phone at Sunset Mesa, Koch said she did not wish to talk with a Reuters reporter. There is also evidence of Donor Services shipping at least 26 boxes containing body parts to various parts of the world in 2016 according to evidence that has been recovered. The suspension order details a 2019 instance in which an unnamed individual arranged with Kents funeral home for the cremation of their stillborn child. The New York Times, a far-left outlet, admitted in a report that Trump's rollback of a rule from President Barack Funeral homes in Leadville and Gypsum are under criminal investigation after authorities this month found an unrefrigerated body, bags of unlabeled cremains, an abandoned stillborn infant and at least one instance in which a family received cremains for their stillborn child mixed with bits of adult body parts and metal fragments. As a matter of fact, the FBI has set up a hot line and e-mail address for potential victims of the businesses to contact with information. The legislation has support from the state's largest trade association for funeral homes, the Colorado Funeral Directors Association. A Colorado funeral home operator who was accused of selling and stealing body parts pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Tuesday, the US justice department . I told them it didnt make sense, Mabry said. They are struggling with claims she created a product with a power saw and angry that she ultimately profited from the sale of arms, heads legs, torsos even whole bodies. Twenty-five of the brokers were for-profit corporations. The investigation of Kents funeral homes began in February after the sheriffs office received a complaint by a client regarding the handling of human remains. Kent is already facing charges of perjury and official misconduct for sending wife Staci Kent, who is not authorized to act as a deputy coroner, to death scenes on at least three occasions, according to a September 2019 grand jury indictment. But the business arrangement is highly unusual. Funeral homes in Leadville and Gypsum are under criminal investigation after authorities this month found an unrefrigerated body, bags of unlabeled cremains, an abandoned stillborn infant and at least one instance in which a family received cremains for their stillborn child mixed with bits of adult body parts and metal fragments. DALLAS The Texas Funeral Service Commission says it has opened an investigation into allegations of the mishandling of corpses at one of the most high-profile mortuaries in the state. With a population of about 20,000, Montrose is a community surrounded by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Prosecutors recommended a sentence for Hess of 12 to 15 years. Separate from the FBI inquiry, Reuters has learned that Colorado state funeral regulators are investigating Hess's funeral home, Sunset Mesa. Reuters could find no other operation active in the United States that houses a funeral home, crematory and body broker in the same facility and under the same ownership. Hess is tentatively set to be sentenced in January. Now its possible its not my baby in the urn, Reh said. You are not looking at the full disposition (of a body). As you likely know by now, Diamond of the famous 'Diamond and Silk' sister duo, has passed away at the young age of only 51. Escher said Koch, who embalmed and dismembered bodies, pulled teeth from some of the corpses to extract the gold in crowns or fillings. Jan 3 (Reuters) - A former Colorado funeral home owner was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on Tuesday for defrauding relatives of the dead by dissecting 560 corpses and selling body parts without permission. The lawsuit claims the three sold torsos for $1,000, a pelvis with upper legs for $1,200. A judge sentenced a Colorado funeral-home owner who carved up corpses and sold parts of them without families' permission to 20 years in prison on Tuesday, according to the Department of Justice. A state investigation by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance now focuses on a Memphis funeral home that's also the focus of a Netflix reality show. [the FBI told me] his head was sent to so and so. Reuters could not independently verify this figure. The FBI hired a lab to test the cremains given to the families, and they have determined the boxes of ash contain cement, sand and other non-human particles. In another call two months later, Staci Kent responded to a death scene without a body bag, the indictment states, which led to an argument with law enforcement. Hansons box included wires and what appear to be old batteries. Sam Tabachnik is a roving reporter for The Denver Post, focusing on stories outside metro Denver. A A A Colorado-based funeral home director has been sentenced to 20 years in prison stemming from a litany of charges including fraud and illegally selling the body parts or bodies of approximately 500 individuals whose families did not consent to that practice. We did not provide our messaging to be repurposed in this brochure, and are following up, said spokeswoman Erin Dolin. After losing his ability to conduct cremation or funeral home services in December, Kent's Silverthorne funeral parlor sat empty until this month when the new tenant, Colorado Funeral Homes . Chantal Reh, an Avon resident, went through a similar experience when she suffered a stillborn birth in August 2018. . Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. They cut him up in pieces and sent them all over the place.. John Wayne Gacy's house has since been torn down and replaced with a new residence, built on the same land where Gacy reportedly buried many of his victims. Hiring funeral directors: Do you look for IQ or EQ? But days went by and she couldnt reach anyone. They were affiliated with her funeral business. Fells called running such a multifaceted operation a new frontier., Through the attorney, Hess declined to comment for this story and didnt address questions about the FBI probe, her business practices, and the allegations by former employees. (McGovern said no industry regulated by the Division of Professions and Occupations has regulators assigned exclusively to it.) or redistributed. An agent with the FBI has interviewed at least four former employees who worked for funeral director and body broker Megan Hess, seeking information about how she operates her businesses, the former workers told Reuters. Kent kept giving excuses, Cavanagh said. A few days later, she was able to pick up the cremains, but like E.W., Cavanagh received no paperwork. A funeral home in Crapaud, Prince Edward Island is under RCMP investigation for allegations of financial irregularities. In Colorado, the states organ donation program, Donor Alliance, said Hesss marketing language could be confusing to people.. Both Reh and Cavanagh said they want to get the ashes analyzed at the University of Colorado to see if they actually belong to their babies. The FBI started looking into Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors and Donor Services a few months after it was discovered that both businesses were being operated out of the same building and by the same owner, according to thereport. They both plan to file complaints with the Department of Regulatory Affairs. Hess committed crimes, prosecutors said, when she defrauded relatives of the deceased by lying about cremations and by dissecting bodies and selling them without permission. There is also evidence of Donor Services shipping at least 26 boxes containing body parts to various parts of the world in 2016 according to evidence that has been recovered. Reuters provides business, financial, national and international news to professionals via desktop terminals, the world's media organizations, industry events and directly to consumers. It is unbelievable, said Dave Teselle, a Denver-based attorney who represents Hancock and more than five dozen other families in a claim against the owners of Sunset Mesa and the companies who are accused of buying the body parts. The confrontation escalated when Shannon Kent allegedly called Lake County Sheriff Amy Reyes and threatened her with arrest for questioning his wifes decision not to use the body bag, prosecutors said. What You Need To Know. A Colorado funeral home is accused of victimizing families after claims that it secretly sold body parts in the hours after death. ), Windsors Newest Hot Spot is Open and Smells of Glorious Bacon [Photos], The Cheapest Home in Weld County is Selling for Less Than $90K, Local Fort Collins Photographer Wins 3rd Grammy in the Visual Arts, WATCH: This Deleted Scene From The Office Totally Calls Out Colorado, The 2023 Cheyenne Frontier Days Concert Lineup Has Been Announced, This Weeks Larimer Countys Most Wanted: Dallas Rusk, 3 Northern Colorado Districts in Top 10 for Slow Internet Access, New Life Planned for this Beloved Greeley Building, the dark history behind the town's funeral home, READ: This 1993 Steamboat Springs Murder Became One of the Nation's Most Chilling Cases. Pettyjohn now lives with the memory of what happened to the body of her 26-year-old son, Brian. I saw a lot inside as far as, you know, body parts and things like that. She continued, But I was oblivious to what was going on. No one would pick up the phone. Theyre united by the pain of believing they purchased cremation services for their loved ones, knowing they never agreed to let Hess dismember the bodies. They both plan to file complaints with the Department of Regulatory Affairs. In February 2018, Lina Cavanagh lost her baby at an advanced stage of pregnancy a loss that took its toll on her, both physically and emotionally. Its a profit business. Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the worlds largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day. LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Jeffersonville funeral home is under investigation after the owner allegedly got behind on processing bodies, which began stacking up for an unknown period of. More by The Associated Press, Got a story tip? On Oct. 13, the state shut down both the Gypsum operation and . Her father, Alan Koch, ran the crematory, Hess said. None of the former employees or associates Reuters interviewed worked directly for the body broker business. Learn more about Colorado true crime stories in the gallery below. All they got was the urn and a death certificate no other paperwork. Megan Hess, a former Colorado funeral home director, chopped up over 500 . That's part of my nightmare. Shannon and Staci Kent did not respond to interview requests from The Denver Post. These illegitimate businesses are buying and selling body parts just like anything off the shelf at Walmart, added Teselle.