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Ex-funeral home directors get prison for selling body parts from 560 corpses

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Jan 05, 2023 - 09:47 AM

DETROIT, US (AA) – Two former funeral home directors in the US state of Colorado have been sentenced to prison for dissecting around 560 corpses and selling their body parts without their families’ consent.

The crimes were detailed in a statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Colorado.

The women, Megan Hess, 46, and Shirley Koch, 69, ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, Colorado until 2018. They were sentenced Tuesday by Judge Christine M. Arguello for the illegal sale of bodies and body parts without the consent of the families.

Both Hess and Koch had earlier plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and aiding and abetting.

Hess received 20 years in prison while Koch received 15 years.

The investigation was led by Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Denver Division and the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General.

According to the plea agreement, both defendants committed the criminal acts from 2010 through 2018. The women would meet with unwitting families who were searching for cremation services for themselves or their family members who had died. The defendants in those meetings, along with others, would agree to cremate the bodies, in turn providing the remains back to the families.

Instead, Hess and Koch would harvest body parts from or prepare entire bodies for sale in body broker services, selling them without the consent or knowledge of the families. The cremated remains returned were often those from parts of other deceased persons or someone else entirely.

Both Hess and Koch neither discussed nor obtained authorization from families for donation to body broker services. Families who did agree — to only minor tissue or skin samples – had no idea the women often sold those remains beyond what was authorized.

Even more horrifically, the women shipped bodies and body parts that tested positive for or belonged to people who had died from infectious diseases like Hepatitis B or HIV, although certifying to buyers that they were free from disease. The parts were then shipped commercially, violating Department of Transportation regulations surrounding hazardous materials. ​​​​​​​

“These two women prayed on vulnerable victims who turned to them in a time of grief and sadness. But instead of offering guidance, these greedy women betrayed the trust of hundreds of victims and mutilated their loved ones,” said FBI Acting Special Agent In Charge Leonard Carollo.

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