(CNN) – The owners of a Colorado funeral home were arrested in Oklahoma on Wednesday, weeks after 190 human remains were discovered “improperly stored” at their business, authorities say.
Jon Hallford and Carie Hallford were arrested on suspicion of abuse of a corpse, theft, money laundering and forgery. according to a press release from the public prosecutor’s office.
An investigation began after a foul odor was reported coming from the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, about 30 miles south of Colorado Springs. Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper said in October that human remains were found at the site that had been improperly preserved – providing “green burials.”
The remains were discovered after a search warrant was executed on October 4th.
A total of 190 bodies have been found so far, 110 of which have been positively identified, Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller said.
“We notified about 137 families,” Keller said. “To date we have released around 25 relatives to their families.”
The probable cause affidavit for the arrest is currently sealed, prosecutor spokeswoman Kate Singh told CNN, but District Attorney Michael J. Allen said his office would not challenge the unsealing of the affidavit in due course. “I want to warn you that the information contained in this affidavit is absolutely shocking,” Allen said Wednesday.
The Hallfords are in custody in Waggoner, Oklahoma, awaiting an extradition hearing, prosecutors said.
It was not clear Wednesday morning whether the Hallfords had an attorney, and court records for previous legal matters involving Jon Hallford did not list an attorney for him.
“I am relieved that criminal charges have been filed against the owner of the funeral home and a criminal investigation has been launched. I know this will not bring peace to the families affected by this heartbreaking incident, but we hope those responsible are held fully accountable in court,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.
Polis previously issued a local disaster emergency to provide state resources to support the investigation.
“I want to thank Governor Polis from the bottom of my heart for his disaster declaration, because without it this would have completely demoralized my office,” Fremont County Sheriff Cooper said Wednesday.
He said his employees were deeply affected by the investigation. “I can say without a doubt that it has been a very negative impact.”
According to Return to Nature Funeral Home websiteDoes the funeral home offer “green burials,” without embalming fluid, in a biodegradable coffin, or “nothing at all.”
According to the website, the company also operates a facility in Colorado Springs. The funeral home previously offered cremation services but stopped doing so in July 2023, its website says.
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