Colorado Funeral Home Operators Indicted for Selling Body Parts
Federal prosecutors indicted two Colorado funeral home operators on Tuesday (March 17) for illegally selling body parts and entire bodies.
According to The Denver Channel, Shirley Koch, 66, and her daughter Megan Hess, 43, operated the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, where they allegedly sold body parts and bodies to third parties for eight years without informing the families of the deceased.
On the occasion that families did allow the pair to donate body parts, they often sold more than they were allowed.
U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn stated that the two women also gave random ashes to families that did not actually belong to their loved ones.
The FBI launched an investigation after families reported that they were not receiving their loved ones' ashes.
Their lab results revealed that many of the ashes given to families included non-human particles, including cement and sand.
Colorado regulators shut down the funeral home in February of 2018.
The demand for body parts is largely from medical schools, law enforcement agencies, and the military. It is currently not illegal to sell body parts from cadavers for profit to body brokers in Colorado.
However, the underground black market also plays a large part in the selling of body parts.
State lawmakers are looking to pass a law that would make it illegal for funeral home owners to sell any body parts for profit.
As for Koch and Hess, the two are facing up to 25 years in prison for charges of mail fraud and transportation of hazardous materials.