OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The owners of a Colorado Springs funeral home where 190 bodies were discovered “improperly stored” and decaying were arrested Wednesday morning in Oklahoma.
Jon and Carie Hallford were arrested in Wagoner, Oklahoma, on suspicion of four felonies — abuse of a corpse, theft, money laundering and forgery — Colorado’s 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said in a Wednesday press conference.
The forgery charge could have to deal with death certificates, said Allen.
Several agencies, including the Oklahoma City division of the FBI, assisted in arresting the pair.
“The arrest, as far as I know, went off without a hitch,” stated Allen.
An investigation was launched in October 2023, when the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a “foul odor” coming from the Return to Nature Funeral Home.
Allen would not release any details of the case during Wednesday’s press conference because he didn’t want to negatively impact the prosecution or investigation.
The court documents in this case have also been sealed for the time being.
“It was sealed to protect the investigation and the arrest process. My office will not contest unsealing that affidavit at the appropriate time, but that determination will be made by a judge at a later date. I want to warn you, the information contained in that affidavit is absolutely shocking,” explained Allen.
According to the Associated Press, a state document alleged funeral home owner, Jon Hallford tried to conceal the improper storage of corpses. He claimed he was doing taxidermy at the facility, according to a state suspension letter.
Hallford acknowledged he had a “problem” at the property, the Colorado Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration letter said.
The document did not elaborate on the taxidermy and alleged improper storage of remains, but the facility’s registration has been expired since November 2022, according to the Associated Press.
The Fremont County Coroner, Randy Keller, confirmed 190 bodies were found decaying in the funeral home’s facility.
The coroner’s office has positively identified 110 individuals.
“We have another 80 individuals that we are working on diligently to identify,” said Keller.
The coroner’s office is now processing dental records, fingerprints, and medical hardware to identify the remaining bodies. If necessary, DNA testing will be used next.
Keller said 25 bodies have been released back to their loved ones.
The coroner’s office has six teams actively notifying families across the U.S. So far, at least 137 families have been contacted.
Officials are now asking any family who used Return to Nature Funeral Home’s services between September of 2019 to present day come forward.
“Anyone that has not contacted us at this time that has done business with Return to Nature from September of ’19 forward should contact us at PenroseFuneralHome@FBI.gov,” said Keller.
The Hallfords currently sit in the Muskogee County Jail on a $2M cash bond.
The extradition process will begin Wednesday.
“A judge in Oklahoma will oversee that process starting today. If a person waives extradition, they will be brought back to Colorado at the earliest opportunity,” he added.
How and why the couple ended up in Oklahoma is not clear. News 4 has asked several different agencies in which no one was able to answer.
The Colorado’s 4th Judicial District Attorney’s office will lead the investigation and prosecution against the Hallfords.