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'Frustration, anger, pain,' loved ones react to the Return to Nature Funeral Home court hearings

Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 21:22:28-05

PENROSE, Colo. — The families who used the Return to Nature Funeral home tell News5 the court hearings have been difficult on them.

The owners of the funeral home in Penrose, Jon and Carie Hallford, both face more than 250 felony counts, including abuse of a corpse, money laundering, forgery, and theft. The couple is accused of improperly storing 190 bodies inside the funeral home in Penrose.

We first introduced you to Mary Simons back in October when she received a tragic call, investigators identified her husband, Darrell, as one of the people whose remains were inside the Return to Nature Funeral home.

Mary Simons and other families of the victims of the funeral home are calling for justice. People have posted signs surrounding the funeral home in Penrose that say "never again" and "no more victims."

“Frustration, anger, pain,” Simons said.

A few words Mary Simons uses to describe what it's like listening to the court proceeding for the two people accused of improperly storing her husband's body.

“You just get so angry and so hurt, they don't seem to be living in the same hell that you are,” Simons said.

Simons’s husband, Darrell passed away six months ago this upcoming Tuesday.

“This past couple of months have really been mentally difficult, I find myself kind of having breakdowns here and there,” Simons said.

"It was hard to get through the holidays," Simons said.

Christmas was one of Darrell’s favorite holidays and this was Simons’s first Christmas without him. She has been working through the grieving process and in order to stay calm, she crochets while listening to the court proceedings at home.

“I understand the judge is following the laws, but things like when their bail gets reduced, that is a blow, that a hard blow. When Jon got released, when he made bail, that was a hard blow,” Simons said.

Jon Hallford’s bail was reduced from $2 million to $100,000. He was released on bail at the end of January.

“It's infuriating, I know their attorneys are doing their job for what they get paid for, but to listen to some of the stuff they say and make excuses, it makes you so angry,” Simons said.

She wants to see justice served but she says the court proceedings have been a constant reminder of the horror her family has been through.

“I feel like I am almost living in my own prison at times, he is out, I know he has conditions, but he is out and I don't think that is fair,” Simons said.

She believes whoever is responsible should be in prison.

“I really do think they should be locked up for life, I know that is not going to happen but I think that would only be fair with the amount of people they hurt,” Simons said.

Simons expressed that she does not think the Hallford's care about the families they have hurt.

“I wish I could figure out a way to make them feel like they could not get out of the bed in the morning,” Simons said. “I wish they understood the grief and how much thinking about everything that happened seems to make it worse."

Simons said it's time for the Hallford's to be held accountable for their actions and for lawmakers to implement regulations so this does not happen again.

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