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HomeNewsAuthorities Charge Owners of Colorado Funeral Home Where 190 Decaying Bodies Were...

Authorities Charge Owners of Colorado Funeral Home Where 190 Decaying Bodies Were Found With COVID Fraud

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A couple who owned a Colorado funeral home where authorities discovered 190 decaying bodies in 2023 have been indicted on federal charges. According to court documents, the two allegedly misspent nearly $900,000 in pandemic relief funds. They spent money on vacations, cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and other personal expenses.

A picture of the Colorado funeral home owners
Source: FoxNews/X

The indictment reaffirms accusations from state prosecutors that the couple, Jon and Carie Hallford, gave families dry concrete instead of cremated ashes. Also, it alleges they buried the wrong body on two occasions. 

In addition, the indictment says the couple collected over $130,000 from families for cremations and burial services they never provided. The 15 charges brought by the federal grand jury are in addition to over 200 criminal counts they face in Colorado state court.

The Hallfords face charges for corpse abuse, money laundering, theft, and forgery, amongst others, in Colorado state court. Furthermore, the indictment stated that the federal offenses carry potential penalties of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

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On Monday, April 15, the Return to Nature Funeral Home owners appeared in a federal courtroom bound in shackles. That marked their initial appearance before US Magistrate Judge Scott Varholak. Assistant US Attorney Tim Neff argued the couple were a flight risk.

The two allegedly fled to Oklahoma last October when authorities first discovered the decaying bodies. “They simply evaporated from the community,” Neff said. However, the judge did not immediately decide on the couple’s release pending trial. Instead, he set an arraignment hearing for Thursday, April 18.

After their court appearance, Carie Hallford’s attorney, Chaz Melihercik, said he would argue against detention at the next hearing. Also, Jon Hallford’s public defender, Kilie Latendresse, claimed he had been following his bond conditions in the state case. Hence, Latendresse said the detention was unnecessary.

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The new charges brought against the couple triggered more anguish for families who sent their loved ones to the funeral home. Every new revelation about the case shocked Tanya Wilson, who hired Return to Nature to cremate her mother’s remains. Wilson spread the ashes with family in Hawaii. 

After officials made the horrific discovery, Wilson found out those ashes weren’t her mother’s. According to reports, authorities identified Wilson’s mother among the 190 decaying bodies. Hundreds of family members, like Wilson, believed they put their loved ones to rest or clutched their ashes close. 

However, the discovery tore at their healing. Before the court unsealed the new indictment, public records showed the couple struggled with debt. They faced evictions and lawsuits for unpaid cremations even as they spent lavishly on themselves.

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The couple allegedly used $882,300 in pandemic relief funds to buy a vehicle, dinners, and cryptocurrency. Furthermore, authorities say the fraud involved three loans obtained between March 2020 and October 2021.

They also bought a GMC Yukon and an Infiniti worth over $120,000 together. The Hallfords’ alleged lies, money laundering, forgery, and manipulation over the past four years devastated hundreds of grieving family members.

According to court documents, police discovered the 190 bodies in 2023 in a bug-infested storage building. 

Some of the remains languished since 2019. Reports say the Hallfords likely sent fake ashes and fabricated cremation records to families who did business with them. Investigation into the couple’s crimes is ongoing, as their next hearing is Thursday.

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