A staggering number of almost 200 decomposing bodies have recently been discovered and removed from a “green” funeral home in Colorado, surpassing the initial estimates. Authorities are diligently working to identify these remains as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of improper storage. Following reports of a putrid odor resembling that of deceased animals, the bodies were swiftly removed from the eco-friendly funeral home on Friday.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reported that the remains, initially stated to be 115 in number, were transported to the nearby El Paso County Coroner’s Office. As authorities continue their efforts to identify the remains and notify affected families, the total count remains subject to potential changes.
‘We are conducting extensive coordination efforts as we focus on the identification of the decedents and provide notifications to ensure the families are given accurate information to prevent further victimization as they continue to grieve their loved ones,’ Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller said.
Investigators have confirmed that the next phase of their investigation will prioritize the identification and notification of the family. However, they couldn’t provide a specific timeframe for this process. No arrests have been made in connection with the discovery, but employees at the funeral home have been urged to contact the Sheriff’s office.
Joyce Pavetti, 73, has a view of the funeral home from the stoop of her house. She remarked, “We simply assumed that the odor was caused by a deceased animal.”
While neighbor Ron Alexander believed that the odor originated from a septic tank, documents revealed that the property owner, Jon Hallford, informed the Colorado Program Director of the Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration that he practiced taxidermy on the premises. Hallford acknowledged the issue at the property and expressed willingness to meet for an inspection at the Penrose property on October 4th.
According to the website, the company offers a ‘natural burial’ for $1,895, excluding the cost of a casket and cemetery space. The bodies are not embalmed and can be buried in biodegradable caskets, shrouds, or even without any covering. Previously, the funeral home provided cremation services for $1,290, which also included the planting of a tree in a Colorado National Forest. For an additional cost, family members can spend four hours or a final hour privately with their loved ones. The funeral home prides itself on providing a natural and environmentally friendly way to care for your loved ones with minimal impact.
The website continues: “Green Burial aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions and the preservation of habitat, WITHOUT the use of harsh embalming chemicals, metallic, plastic or unnatural items.”
Green burials, permitted by Colorado state law, involve burying the deceased without embalming. However, if burial does not occur within 24 hours, proper refrigeration is required. Last summer, Paul Saito Kahler enlisted the services of Return to Nature for the burial of his 25-year-old Navy serviceman son.
“I mean, there’s obviously questions after hearing that there is something going on but there’s not any information that I can go off of to really make any kind of judgement on it,” Kahler said.