The Colorado funeral home in Fremont County was described by the Sheriff as a scene of horror connected to a criminal investigation.
The funeral home being investigated is situated in Colorado Springs but it also has a branch in Penrose that is currently under scrutiny. Several individuals alerted KKTV 11 News about the significant law enforcement activity on Highway 115 during the night of Wednesday until Thursday. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies were conducting a thorough investigation at the Return to Nature Funeral Home.
According to Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller, concerned community members alerted authorities about a foul smell emanating from the facility, which led to an investigation. Upon entry, officials discovered several bodies that were not properly stored, resulting in a hazardous situation. The removal of the bodies is currently underway.
According to Keller, the process ahead is going to be quite lengthy and requires a great deal of patience. He emphasized that the individuals at this facility will receive the highest level of care and respect throughout the entire process.
An extensive investigation that could take up to several months will be required to identify all the bodies through DNA and forensic records. In light of the situation, Fremont County has declared a disaster emergency, which will provide them with access to state resources. With the FBI lending its support to the investigation, the authorities are hopeful that they will be able to uncover the truth behind this tragic incident.
The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office has issued a statement requesting family members of decedents who made use of the services of the Return to Nature Funeral Home to send an email to [email protected]. The release advises including the best contact number and preferred time for a call in the email. The Sheriff’s Office assures that all emails will be responded to. Alternatively, those who do not have access to email are advised to call the Fremont Emergency Management call line at (719)-276-7421. Victims’ assistance personnel will start responding to messages from October 6, 2023, between 8 am and 6 pm. In-person assistance is also available at 1901 East Main, Canon City CO, between 10 am and 6 pm.
As of Friday morning, there have been no arrests made in the case. Alongside this, a parallel federal investigation is currently underway to determine if any crimes were committed.
Despite several attempts to reach out to the business owners, KKTV 11 News has not received any response. We have made numerous efforts to establish contact, but unfortunately, we have been unable to get in touch with them.
As soon as more information becomes available, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is anticipated to update us.
According to the Fremont County Sheriff, investigators were present at the Return to Natura site in Colorado Springs on Thursday evening. While the Sheriff did confirm that this was a part of the ongoing investigation, no further comments could be made at this time.
As per the summary suspension order published on the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) website, the proprietor of the establishment had admitted to the Program Director of the Office Funeral Home and Crematory Registration about a concerning issue at his Penrose Property. John Hallford, the owner, had confessed that he was involved in taxidermy activities at the said property.
As per a document submitted on DORA’s website, it has been alleged that Hallford did not allow access to one of his properties for investigation on Thursday, which is mandatory by law.
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