PENROSE — The owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose are now behind bars following an arrest in Oklahoma. The El Paso County District Court will work on the extradition process to Fremont County for Jon and Carie Hallford to face charges.
The El Paso County District Court will work on the extradition process to Colorado for the couple to face charges.
According to the Denver FBI Field Office, the FBI was the agency that arrested the Halfords on a Federal Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP) charge.
During the news conference Wednesday morning, 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said, “The suspects were arrested on suspicion of committing multiple crimes, including Money Laundering which is a Class 3 Felony, Theft a Class 5 Felony, Forgery a Class 5 Felony and Abuse of a Corpse a Class 6 Felony.”
Allen mentioned his office wouldn't be releasing the probable cause affidavit until a later date, but admitted that "the information contained in that affidavit is absolutely shocking.”
Allen also went on to thank the different agencies that were involved in the investigation. "Most importantly, the two folks from Fremont County— the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Allen Cooper, and the Fremont County Coroner’s Office, Coroner Randy Keller.”
Colorado Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Schaufer remarked that those involved in the investigation, "...never lost sight of the victims in this. We’re here to support them and will continue to be here to support them," pledged Schaufer.
Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper said, “We couldn’t have gotten through this without a couple of things falling into place. And first, I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Governor Polis for his disaster declaration because, without that, this would’ve completely demoralized my office."
Cooper also stated, "For me personally, I hope these arrests will bring some measure of closure to those family members that have been impacted by this event.”
Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller provided an update on the positive identification of 110 bodies so far. Keller remarked that, "every individual removed from the Return to Nature facility has been treated with the utmost care and respect.”
District Attorney Michael Allen refused to answer any questions regarding the facts of the case but did say that the Return to Nature Funeral Home owners did face an opportunity for bond.
The bond for Jon and Carie Hallford is set at $2 million cash.
In a news release, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation stated at least 189 bodies were removed from the Return to Nature Funeral Home, which came under a multi-agency investigation in early October. Upon initial investigation, law enforcement authorities believed there were up to 115 bodies stored improperly at the funeral home.
CBI says all of the deceased were removed from the funeral home Friday, October 13th with the help of several entities from across the state. CBI will now move to the identification process and family notification portion of the investigation.
According to authorities, the Fremont County Coroner's Office will begin family notifications over the next several days with no timeline for completion.
“We are conducting extensive coordination efforts as we focus on the identification of the decedents and provide notifications to ensure the families are given accurate information to prevent further victimization as they continue to grieve their loved ones,” said Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller.
Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper says his office was notified in early October about an odor coming from the funeral home on Werner Rd.
The document also said Hallford "attempted to conceal the improper storage of human remains" at the funeral home.
If you believe that you or your loved one might be a victim, you are asked to fill out this questionnaire and if you have further questions you can email them to, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not use email, you can call the Fremont County hotline for families at 719-276-7421.
Leventhal Lewis Kuhn Taylor Swan PC filed a class action lawsuit Monday morning with the Fremont County District Court against Return to Nature Funeral Home and its owners Carie Hallford and Jon Hallford, according to a release and legal documents from the law firm.
189 bodies were found at the funeral home earlier this month, some of which were said by El Paso County Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly in coordination with an FBI identification team, Fremont County, and the Air National Guard to be several years old.
Richard Law, whose father, Rodger, was among the deceased was named as a plaintiff.
"I’m honored to stand up on behalf of my father and the other victims in this case," said Law in the release.
Several other impacted families have also joined the suit. The suit makes claims of relief for "outrageous conduct/intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, fraud, negligence, negligence per se, violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, civil conspiracy, violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, civil theft, conversion, unjust enrichment, and misrepresentation."
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