Cryptic Discovery of Over 115 Deceased Persons in Unwonted Storage at an Environmentally-Focused Funeral Parlor in Colorado

Cryptic Discovery of Over 115 Deceased Persons in Unwonted Storage at an Environmentally-Focused Funeral Parlor in Colorado

A Colorado-based funeral home known for specializing in 'eco-friendly' burials has come under scrutiny as officials reveal that more than 115 bodies were found to be stored improperly.

The initial tip-off to authorities came in the form of complaints about a foul odour emanating from The Return to Nature Funeral Home.

Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are cautious about labelling the situation a crime, while the funeral home's owners have cooperated with the investigation.

The arduous process of identifying the remains is expected to take several months.

During a press conference held on Friday, officials disclosed that an area of over 2,500 square feet (232 square meters) had been searched, uncovering the 'inappropriate storage' of bodies that posed a significant hazard.

The Return to Nature Funeral Home, located in Penrose, Colorado, around 30 miles (48 km) south of Colorado Springs, has earned a reputation for its commitment to chemical-free burials, eschewing embalming fluids and employing biodegradable caskets.

Both the FBI and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are lending their support to the Fremont County Sheriff's Office in its ongoing probe.

Sheriff Allen Cooper of Fremont County remarked on Friday, "To spare these grieving families further anguish, I won't delve into specifics, but I must stress that the conditions inside the funeral home were deplorable."

In response to the crisis, Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared a local disaster emergency, facilitating increased access to state resources for investigators.

The nature of the intended disposition of the bodies remains uncertain at this point, though the funeral home's website indicates that they discontinued cremation services in July 2023.

Sheriff Cooper emphasized, "The community, particularly the families who entrusted their loved ones to this funeral home, has expressed numerous questions and concerns. Our paramount focus is on the well-being of these families."

Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller has warned that the investigation is likely to be protracted due to the necessity of conducting comprehensive forensic identification, which includes fingerprinting and DNA analysis. Additional investigative teams, including a technical hazardous response team and a disaster recovery team, are en route from Quantico, Virginia, and are expected to arrive in the coming days.

"These are highly trained teams equipped to handle incidents of national significance, including responses to 9/11 and major airline disasters," noted FBI Special Agent Mark Michalek.

Families will receive notification once the identities of the deceased are conclusively established, and the county is encouraging family members who used the services of The Return to Nature Funeral Home to get in touch via email.

In a bid to provide support, a family crisis centre and a dedicated phone line have been set up.

The Return to Nature Funeral Home has been contacted for their response to the situation.
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop