Colorado, US News Today (News21USA): A funeral home known for its environmentally friendly burials is now facing an investigation as over 115 human remains were found improperly stored on its premises, authorities have revealed.
Deputies from the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado responded to a concerning incident at the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This discovery has raised serious questions about the treatment of human remains and has caused distress among the affected families.
The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office made a shocking find: approximately 115 decomposing bodies stored in a space measuring about 2,500 square feet. These remains are in such a deteriorated state that they will require DNA identification, a process that local officials estimate could take several months.
Sheriff Allen Cooper expressed his dismay during a press conference, saying, “During the last 48 hours, my office made a very disturbing discovery in the town of Penrose, Colorado. There have been a lot of questions and concerns expressed by the community, especially those families who entrusted their loved ones to this funeral home.”
Authorities determined that the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was the owner of the building in question. A search warrant executed on October 4, 2023, revealed that human remains had been improperly stored inside the building.
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Families of the deceased will be informed once the bodies can be positively identified. However, due to the advanced state of decomposition, DNA testing is necessary for accurate identification.
Sheriff Cooper described the scene as “horrific” and noted that even a paramedic who responded to the initial call developed a rash and required medical evaluation due to the conditions.
Authorities have not disclosed specific details about the funeral home’s actions regarding the human remains. However, they have confirmed their collaboration with various agencies, including the Fremont County Coroner’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, the Colorado Department of Public Health, and the FBI.
The Return to Nature Funeral Home has advertised its commitment to green burial practices on its website, emphasizing minimal environmental impact and the absence of harsh embalming chemicals. The funeral home’s website also highlights that embalming is not a legal requirement in Colorado and provides alternatives for preserving the body.
The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office has requested that family members of decedents who utilized the Return to Nature Funeral Home contact them via email at email@example.com.
Sheriff Cooper emphasized their dedication to supporting the affected families throughout the investigation with the assistance of victims’ advocates.
It remains unclear whether any criminal activity has occurred in this case, and as of now, no arrests have been made. The owners of the funeral home are reportedly cooperating with authorities, and the investigation is ongoing.
In response to this disturbing situation, the governor has declared a disaster, and local officials have declared a state of emergency.