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State records: Penrose funeral home owner attempted to conceal improperly stored remains

Owner also claimed to state director he practiced taxidermy at property
Posted at 11:00 AM, Oct 06, 2023

PENROSE — As investigators work to unravel how to manage the scene of more than 115 bodies found stored at "Return to Nature" funeral home in Penrose, News5 Investigates is tracking down the paper trail concerning the facility and the listed owner.

State records say the owner, Jon Hallford, told the Colorado Program Director of the Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration Zen Mayhugh he practiced taxidermy at the property.

The document also said Hallford "attempted to conceal the improper storage of human remains" at the funeral home.

In the documents, the Director also said Hallford admitted to having a problem at the property and "was amenable" to meeting at the Penrose property on October 4th to facilitate the inspection.

Investigators in Fremont County announced Friday morning more than 115 bodies were improperly stored at the funeral home.

The Director received a report earlier this week of an "abhorrent smell" coming from the Penrose funeral home. The registration of the funeral home expired with the state at the end of November 2022.

In the state's report, it also shows Hallford did not permit access to investigators for an inspection on October 5th.

The Fremont County Sheriff said "there have been no arrests to date and we don’t want to speculate about arrests or possible charges at this time”.

The Fremont County Sheriff's Office, Federal Bureau of Invesigation, Fremont County Coroner, Colorado Bureau of Investigation are all working on the case that will likely be referred to the 11th Judicial District for review.

According to Return to Nature's website, the company stopped offering cremation services in July 2023 but was honoring existing pre-arrangements for direct cremation. That's a process of cremating remains without services for the family or a memorial event.

A check of social media accounts listed on the company's homepage shows the Facebook and X (Twitter) accounts no longer exist.

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