DNA analysis to identify the badly deteriorated corpses could take several months, authorities said
The badly decayed bodies of at least 189 people have been removed from a Colorado funeral home after it was discovered they were being improperly stored, officials said on Tuesday, revising up previous estimates from a fortnight ago.
“Teams removed at least 189 individuals and transported them to the El Paso County Coroner’s Office,” Colorado’s Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday, adding that the process had been completed on October 13. “The total number of decedents could change as the identification and investigative processes continue.”
Previous estimates had suggested that there were 115 corpses discovered at the scene. The bodies are in such an advanced state of decomposition that DNA analysis will be required to identify many of them – a process that might take several months, authorities said.
The remains of the deceased individuals were discovered by authorities who responded to a report of a foul odor emanating from the Return to Nature funeral home in a poorly-cared-for building in the small town of Penrose, Colorado.
The discovery of the human remains came after the owners of the funeral home had failed to make tax payments in recent months and got evicted from one of their properties. They were also sued for unpaid bills by a crematory service that had stopped doing business with the funeral home nearly a year ago, reports say.
“Without providing too much detail to avoid further victimizing these families, the area of the funeral home where the bodies were improperly stored was horrific,” Allen Cooper, Sheriff of Fremont County, said earlier this month.
Cooper added that the scene discovered by emergency workers when authorities arrived was so overwhelming that one paramedic developed a rash and required medical treatment.
The website for the funeral home says that it offers a so-called ‘Green Burial’ service, which it says is a way to care for a deceased loved one with minimal environmental impact – and without the use of embalming chemicals. State law requires that any body not buried within 24 hours must be properly refrigerated.
The owners of the funeral home have not publicly commented on the situation.
October 19, 2023 at 12:56AM