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October 24, 23

NEWS / Death certificate fabrications linked to malpractice by Colorado funeral home


A Colorado funeral home is in hot water after authorities discovered at least 189 decaying bodies that had never gotten buried or cremated. Families were allegedly given fake ashes and death certificates listing crematories that no longer did cremations.

The bodies were found by authorities who were responding to a report of an “abhorrent smell” inside a decrepit building at the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, a small town about 100 miles south of Denver. The bodies were decomposing and causing a horrific smell in the entire area. The stench was what eventually got the neighbors to contact authorities.

The owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home had recently gotten evicted from one of their properties and got sued by a crematory for unpaid bills. They also missed their tax payments. The funeral home’s registration expired more than 10 months ago. The crematory that stopped doing business with the funeral home, Wilbert Funeral Services, was still listed in the death certificates, suggesting that Return to Nature Funeral Home furnished false information to the state.

Following the discovery of the odor, owner Jon Hallford was contacted by the state office of Funeral Home and Crematory registry. Hallford acknowledged having a problem at the site but claimed he had been practicing taxidermy at the site.

Due to the decomposition of the bodies, it could take weeks to figure out their identity using fingerprints, DNA testing, as well as medical and dental records. Many families that used the services of the funeral home are fearful that their deceased loved ones may have the ones whose bodies were found.

“My mom’s last wish was for her remains to be scattered in a place she loved, not rotting away in a building,” Tanya Wilson, who believes the ashes she spread in Hawaii in August were fake, was quoted by the Associated Press as stating. “Any peace that we had, thinking that we honored her wishes, you know, was just completely ripped away from us.”

Return to Nature Funeral Home was known to offer "green" burials and cremations without the use of embalming fluids. "Green" burials are legal in Colorado, but corpses not buried within 24 hours must be properly refrigerated, which did not happen in this case.

A&M Logos International will continue keeping track of this horrific case that has sadly affected numerous families in Colorado. While death can be a shocking and somber moment, we are here to assist you with the retrieval and legalization (by means of apostille or authentication) of death certificates for use abroad. Call us today at (212) 233-7061 or e-mail us at info@apostille.us if you have any questions. You can also apply on our website.



 




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