Colorado Funeral Home Owners Arrested for Corpse Abuse and Fraud After Body Count Rises to 190

Image of Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado, site of the recent investigation.

Colorado Funeral Home Owners Arrested Amid Corpse Discovery

The Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado, has become the center of a grim investigation after the arrest of its owners, Jon and Carie Hallford. Officials from El Paso and Fremont counties announced that the couple faces serious charges, including abuse of a corpse, forgery, and money laundering, as the decaying remains of 190 individuals were discovered on the premises.

Body Count Increases as Investigation Intensifies

Initially, authorities believed about 115 bodies were present at the site. However, after completing the removal of the remains in mid-October, Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller confirmed the staggering number had risen to 190. The El Paso County Coroner’s Office is now faced with the daunting task of identifying 80 still-unidentified bodies, with plans to utilize DNA testing to aid in the identification process.

Governor’s Response to Funeral Home Owners’ Arrest

Following the arrests, Colorado Governor Jared Polis expressed his relief, acknowledging the gravity of the situation and the necessity for those responsible to face justice. As the Hallfords await their legal reckoning with bonds set at $2 million, the community looks for closure and accountability.

Background on Return to Nature Funeral Home and Owners

Jon Hallford, who is from Oklahoma and has a history in the funeral service industry, owns the funeral home that specializes in green burials and cremations. The company’s base, Hallfordhomes LLC, is in Colorado Springs. This new information adds context to the Hallfords’ presence in Oklahoma at the time of their arrest.

The Hallfords’ Legal and Regulatory Troubles

The discovery of the bodies came after the odor was reported on October 4th, leading to a license suspension order where Jon Hallford admitted to having a “problem” at the Penrose property. Prior to this incident, the funeral home faced legal issues, including a delinquent business license and a ruling that ordered them to pay over $21,000 to a funeral services company.

A Call for Regulatory Reforms in Colorado

The appalling incident has highlighted Colorado’s insufficient regulation of funeral homes and crematories. As the only state that does not license funeral directors or mandate certifications, and with minimal regulatory oversight, state lawmakers and the Colorado Funeral Directors Association are advocating for urgent reforms to the existing system.

Public Assistance Requested

With a significant portion of the deceased released to their families, authorities are still seeking assistance from those who have had interactions with the funeral home since September 2019. Families seeking information or affected by this case are urged to visit the FBI questionnaire https://forms.fbi.gov/penrose-funeral-home or contact via the dedicated email penrosefuneralhome@fbi.gov for assistance.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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