Numerous news outlets are reporting that approximately 200 bodies have been recovered from a Colorado funeral home — Return to Nature Funeral Home. Earlier this week, state and federal authorities discovered more than one hundred “improperly stored” bodies after receiving reports of foul odors coming from the building located in Penrose, Colorado. Since the initial reports, at least 189 bodies have been discovered and authorities are working to identify the remains and notify the families. It appears that there are more than a dozen lawsuits filed against the funeral home entity — HALLFORDHOMES, LLC and people claiming that the funeral home’s owners Jon Hallford, and Carie Hallford owe people thousands of dollars.
Our deepest sympathies go to the families affected by this type of funeral home negligence and we hope they are able to locate their loved ones’ remains, obtain closure, and obtain a recovery against all responsible parties.
Return To Nature Funeral Home owners Jack Dhooge, Jon Hallford, and Carie Hallford – Source: IG @returntonaturecolorado – September 22, 2017
Return to Nature Funeral Home was initially touted as a green burial-focused funeral home. According to its own social media posts the Colorado-based funeral home “does not embalm or use any chemicals.”
However, their license to practice expired on November 30, 2022 and, on October 5, 2023, the entity HALLFORDHOMES LLC d/b/a Return To Nature Funeral Home was ordered to cease and desist the unregistered practice of a funeral home.
There are also reports that funeral home owner Jon Hallford refused to permit access to an investigator for inspection, admitted to there being a “problem” at the property, and claimed that he also practices taxidermy at the property.
Source: IG @returntonaturecolorado – April 20, 2020
How Long Can Human Remains Be Stored in a Funeral Home?
We wrote in a prior blog about the proper and lawful storage of human remains after death. According to current law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey the law requires funeral homes to embalm or refrigerate a body within 24 hours after death if the burial or cremation will not occur within the same timeframe. However, the law does not specify a maximum amount of time that the funeral home may store human remains.
Funeral Home Laws and Regulations Need Updating
Unfortunately, many states across the country have extremely relaxed funeral home and burial laws, and even more lax enforcement of those laws resulting in a lack of oversight, misrepresentation of services, improper handling of remains, incomplete or inaccurate documentation, unauthorized cremations, and in some horrible cases–lost remains.
The ramifications of relaxed funeral home laws on grieving families can be significant, as they are already coping with the emotional stress of losing a loved one. Lax funeral home laws can exacerbate this stress by subjecting families to financial exploitation, emotional trauma, and a sense of powerlessness. Also, weak or nonexistent regulations may hinder a grieving family’s ability to hold the funeral home, crematory, or cemetery responsible for their wrongdoing.
Despite calls to add regulations to the funeral home industry, as is the case with the Colorado funeral home industry, there are many that object or balk at additional regulations. Pennsylvania has experienced similar pushback where, in 2021, House Bill 1464 was submitted for crematory regulation, but little progress has been made since.
Holding Funeral Homes Accountable
As we have repeatedly wrote in prior blogs, the funeral home industry is rife with improper and underhanded conduct. In the summer of 2023, seven were charged with selling human remains.
Since opening our doors, Kaminsky Law has grown its cemetery and funeral home negligence practice, and we have been tirelessly working to hold funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematories accountable for their misconduct in the handling of remains, proper cremation, and proper burial to help families ensure that their loved ones are treated with the compassion and care they deserve.
Call Us for a Free Funeral Home Negligence Consultation
If you believe that a funeral home, a cemetery, a morgue, or a crematory have been negligent or with the handling of a loved one’s remains, don’t hesitate to Contact Us. The Lawyers at Kaminsky Law have years of experience dealing with funeral home, cemetery, and crematory negligence as well as many other issues that may arise when making burial arrangements for your loved ones.