Carie Hallford and Jon Hallford, owners of the now-closed Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado, have been charged with multiple felonies, including corpse abuse, following the discovery of 190 decomposing human remains at their business. The couple appeared for advisement hearings in District Court in Colorado Springs, with their bail set at $2 million each.
During Carie Hallford’s video appearance on Wednesday, presided over by District Judge Samorreyan Burney, her public defender requested a bail reduction to $50,000, citing her clean criminal record. However, Judge Burney maintained the higher bail due to the severity of the charges. Jon Hallford’s hearing occurred on Friday, where his bail was similarly upheld.
The Hallfords, who are both represented by the public defender’s office, face an extensive list of charges, including 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, over 50 counts of forgery, five counts of theft, and four counts of money laundering. Neither has entered a plea, with their next court appearances scheduled for December 5.
The case unfolded in early October after a report of an “abhorrent smell” led to the grim discovery at their Penrose location, roughly 34 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Some remains had been at the site for as long as four years. The coroner’s office undertook efforts to identify the bodies through fingerprints, medical records, and potentially DNA.
Court records reveal that family members of the deceased were falsely informed that their loved ones had been cremated, receiving materials that were not their ashes.
The Hallfords were apprehended on November 8 at the residence of Jon Hallford’s father in Oklahoma, following a federal arrest warrant alleging they had fled Colorado to evade prosecution. The federal charge was subsequently dropped after their arrests.
This case has raised significant concerns about practices at funeral homes and the importance of regulatory oversight to prevent such incidents. As the legal proceedings advance, the community and the affected families await justice and clarity in this disturbing case.