Mistreatment of a Corpse in Colorado
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Colorado Mistreatment of a Corpse
Return to Nature, a funeral home in southern Colorado, is under investigation after authorities discovered at least 189 improperly stored bodies while responding to complaints about foul smells emanating from the business. Investigators at the scene commented that the bodies were “improperly stored” and that the air was “horrific.” New evidence suggests families of the deceased may have been given fake ashes.
Morgan & Morgan stands beside the affected surviving families, and together, we demand answers for the horrific and inhumane mistreatment of their lost loved ones. If you suspect a loved one’s remains were mishandled by the Return to Nature Funeral Home, don’t hesitate to contact Morgan & Morgan for help. We can provide you with a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.
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What Is Return to Nature?
The Return to Nature Funeral Home advertises to provide “green” burial of non-embalmed bodies in biodegradable caskets, shrouds, or "nothing at all," according to its website. "No embalming fluids, no concrete vaults. As natural as possible." Colorado law, however, requires bodies not buried within 24 hours of death to be properly stored.
What Was Found at Return to Nature Funeral Home?
Presently, investigators have reported that approximately 189 bodies were found improperly stored and sat inside what many thought was an abandoned building, though more specific details are yet to be available.
According to police, the discovered bodies are in such a state that they will need to be identified through DNA.
Were Family Members Given Fake Ashes?
In a recent investigation conducted by the Associated Press(AP), evidence appears to suggest that Return to Nature may have fabricated cremation records and given families fake ashes. Their investigation also uncovered the crematories Return to Nature claims to have used for the cremations of those deceased, claimed they did not perform cremations for the funeral home on the dates stated on the records.
Of those interviewed, none received an identification tag or certificate, which experts say are typically given to family members to ensure the cremations are authentic. Four families who did receive their loved ones' "ashes" from Return to Nature claimed that the ashes seemed like dry concrete. Two mixed some ashes with water and claimed that the ash solidified.
According to Faith Haug, the mortuary science program at Colorado's Arapahoe Community College, actual ashes would not be expected to transform into a solid object and would stay brittle. Currently, the investigation into the funeral home is still ongoing.
How Are Police Responding to the Return to Nature Incident?
Authorities did not disclose what the funeral home was doing with the human remains but did confirm that they are working with the Fremont County Coroners' Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the FBI on the case.
A disaster declaration has been made by the governor, and local officials have declared an emergency. The Fremont Colorado County Sheriff's Office is asking that family members of descendants who utilized the Return to Nature Funeral Home please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is It Against the Law to Not Embalm a Deceased Body?
Technically, it is not illegal to naturally bury the remains of a deceased loved one. Embalming of the deceased’s body, that is the use of chemicals like formaldehyde to preserve the body for a short amount of time, is not required, and there are other approved ways to treat the remains, such as cremation.
However, there are regulations for how to respectfully handle the deceased, including the provisions of a temperature-controlled environment after 24 hours have passed.
What Should I Do if My Deceased Loved One Was at Return to Nature?
Families who entrusted their loved ones to this funeral home deserve justice. If you are an affected survivor, Morgan & Morgan can fight on your behalf. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.
For over 35 years, Morgan & Morgan has fought For the People to help protect their rights. With an office in every state, we are the largest personal injury law firm in the country and have an office near you that could help. We have recovered over $15 billion for our clients, and you may be entitled to compensation for your unnecessary and traumatic experience, too. Call us today to take your first step toward justice.