Colorado Funeral Home Owner Gets 20 Years For Selling Body Parts And Fake Ashes
By: April Carson
A former funeral home director in Colorado, who unlawfully dissected more than 500 bodies and sold body parts without the permission of bereaved families, has been sentenced to a shocking twenty years behind bars.
Megan Hess, 46, and her mother Shirley Koch, 69 have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for illegally obtaining 560 corpses between 2010 and 2018. The two sold body parts to medical training companies without informing them of the illegal nature of their actions. Colorado Department of Justice revealed the news on Tuesday.
The funeral home, Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors, had been operating for more than two decades and was considered the largest crematorium in the United States.
In the town of Montrose, Colorado, Hess owned and operated an establishment that housed his funeral home business as well as Donor Services - a body parts enterprise.
Federal prosecutors said that Hess had illegally sold hundreds of body parts, including whole cadavers and organs, to medical training companies for use in medical simulations. Additionally, Hess was accused of selling fake ashes to grieving families who believed they were receiving the cremated remains of their deceased loved ones.
In July, she was found guilty of fraud and given the harshest punishment that the law allows. This deceptive duo would often demand a hefty fee from bereaved families for cremation services they never provided - instead harvesting body parts or selling entire corpses.
Prosecutor Tim Neff divulged in a court filing that Hess and Koch had perpetuated an egregious act of deception, using their funeral home to procure bodies and body parts through deceitful donor forms. As if this weren't enough, the conduct of these two caused unimaginable distress for family members who have suffered grievous losses.
Generally, Hess and Koch were not provided consent to donate the decedents’ bodies or body parts for sale in their business. In some cases, however, they requested permission from families only to be refused. The two would then go ahead and take the parts anyway.
Despite being repeatedly denied, Hess and Koch would persist in their attempts to acquire body parts or prepare entire bodies for sale. In some cases where families consented to donation, the two men went above and beyond what was agreed upon by selling remains without permission from the family. Prosecutors accused them of such reprehensible behavior.
Notoriously, Hess and Koch falsely declared to families that the cremains they delivered were authentic; in reality, these ashes were fake. According to prosecutors, up to two hundred households received a box of mixed remains from multiple cadavers - all while being lied by Hess.
Furthermore, they would send cadavers and body pieces of people with HIV or Hepatitis C without notifying the recipients about this vital detail. Their activities were so intrusive that it caused an uproar among Colorado state citizens.
The prosecution labeled the offenses as one of the most appalling body part cases recorded in recent United States history. During Tuesday's sentencing hearing, US District Judge Christine M. Arguello exclaimed that it was "the most emotionally draining case" she had ever encountered on her bench.
Judge Arguello expressed alarm that Hess refuses to accept accountability for her actions, leading them to swiftly order both Hess and Koch to be incarcerated.
Despite receiving complaints of misconduct related to the funeral home, state administrators were unable to enter and assess the premises as mandated by law -unless a criminal charge has been filed.
Representatives Matt Soper and Dylan Roberts declared their intention to enact change.
According to Soper, the families affected during this mortifying experience described it like a second death. Colorado funeral home directors have been found to be among the least regulated in all of America; making this even more appalling and inconceivable. One can only imagine how devastating these news must have felt for those involved - that body brokering, selling of body parts, and using concrete instead as replacements were taking place right here in our own country.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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