Colorado Funeral Home Under Investigation for Improper Storage of 115 Bodies

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A comprehensive investigation is underway regarding the disturbing discovery of over 115 bodies, improperly stored at a Colorado funeral home specializing in green burials. The Return to Nature Funeral Home, located in Penrose, approximately thirty miles south of Colorado Springs, is now the focus of an inquiry anticipated to span several months.

Fremont County Coroner, Randy Keller, in a press briefing, forecasted a protracted and intricate procedure. He cited the substantial number of remains within the premises coupled with the complex process of identification as factors that will contribute to the length of the investigation.

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At this stage, no arrests have been made and the premises are being scrutinized by both the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, working in conjunction to support the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office. According to the FBI Public Affairs Specialist, Vikki Migoya, it is yet to be determined whether any criminal offense has been committed.

The investigation was instigated following a report of suspicious odors originating from the funeral home, leading to the sheriff contacting the coroner’s office. The discovery of the improperly stored bodies, resulting in a hazardous situation, was not made until after a formal examination of the building, made possible by a search warrant.

Sheriff Allen Cooper’s account of the scene was chilling, labeling it “horrific.” The search of the premises demanded the examination of an area greater than 2,500 square feet. However, the details regarding the specifics of the improper storage of these bodies were not disclosed by Keller. The determination of whether the bodies were destined for burial or cremation remains unclear.

Further information revealed that the Return to Nature Funeral Home offers environmentally friendly services, featuring burials devoid of embalming fluids, and utilizing biodegradable caskets. They even, reportedly, offer the option of “nothing at all.” The business, which also manages a location in Colorado Springs, had once provided cremation services, although those ceased in July 2023.

As the investigation continues, extra precautions are being taken to ensure safety, including the use of personal protective equipment for all involved and the erection of tents or fences to obstruct public view. Keller has assured that the identification of a body would immediately lead to the notification of respective families.  The establishment of a family crisis center and a dedicated phone line are additional measures taken to assist affected families.

The owners of the funeral home have reportedly been contacted by investigators and, as of now, have been cooperative. Furthermore, state resources have become accessible due to a local disaster emergency issued by Governor Jared Polis.