Arrests Made in Tragic Colorado Funeral Home Case

( – Media headlines recently erupted with the news that Oklahoma law enforcement officials took the owners of a now-shuttered Colorado funeral home into custody. The arrests came after sheriff’s deputies made a grim discovery at their place of business a few weeks ago. Here’s what we know so far.

On November 8, the Office of the District Attorney for Colorado’s 4th Judicial District issued a press release detailing the capture and arrest of John and Carie Hallford. The couple owned the now-defunct Return to Nature Funeral Home, headquartered in Colorado Springs.

The statement explained that law enforcement officials in Wagoner, Oklahoma, arrested the Hallfords under a Colorado arrest warrant. The pair stand accused of abusing a corpse, a Class 6 felony; four Class 6 and one Class 5 counts of theft; one count of money laundering, a Class 3 offense; and one Class 5 count of forgery.

The case began on October 3 when neighbors of the funeral home contacted the Freemont County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) to report the presence of a “foul odor” coming from Return to Nature’s Mortuary, located in Penrose, Colorado. The following day, FCSO investigators executed a search warrant at the premises, accompanied by officials from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies and the Freemont County Coroner’s Office.

The officials discovered a large number of bodies that had been improperly stored at the property. The Freemont County Coroner subsequently confirmed that his office removed 190 bodies from the mortuary. As of November 8, the office has positively identified 110 sets of remains. They are currently using medical hardware, fingerprints, and dental records to process the remaining bodies. They haven’t ruled out the possibility of using DNA testing if necessary.

On October 6, the FCSO issued a press release providing a link to a questionnaire the department developed with the assistance of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI to help with its investigation.

The FCSO asked any individuals with information relevant to the probe to fill out the online form. Alternatively, interested parties can send an email to [email protected] or call 719-276-7421.

Colorado prosecutors initiated the extradition process on November 8. Meanwhile, Muskogee County jailers are holding the Hallfords on a $2 million cash bond.

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