Montrose, Colorado, USA: Colorado state officials this week indefinitely shut down the funeral home and crematory, Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors, owned by Megan Hess, the woman who reportedly runs a side business selling donated human body parts from the same building.
In its order, issued Monday, the state’s Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration suspended operations at the funeral home after saying that cremated remains returned to one donor were analysed by the family and found to be concrete, not human ashes.
The action against Sunset Mesa and its owner, Megan Hess, comes after an FBI raid last week. That raid followed a report by Reuters in January about alleged practices at Sunset Mesa funeral home and Donor Services, the Hess-run body donation firm.
During the FBI raid, officials searching the funeral home also found bags of “dry concrete/cement,” the order said.The Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors and Donor Services building in Montrose, Colorado. Photo: Reuters
Former employees of the Montrose, Colorado, establishment had said before the FBI raid that they were troubled by what they witnessed at the funeral home.
Although Hess spoke about her businesses in 2016, she has since declined to comment. By Tuesday morning, the funeral home’s website had been taken offline and the phone number disconnected. Hess’s lawyer, Carol Viner, could not be reached for comment. Previously, Viner had asked reporters to “refrain from contacting” Hess employees “for any reason.”
In its order, the Colorado department, a division of the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies, found that Hess neglected to maintain required cremation records for at least five years and final disposition records of the deceased for at least seven years. Sunset Mesa also disposed of bodies before obtaining the necessary permits, the state order said.
In last month’s story, former employees described how bodies donated to Donor Services were dismembered and sold. The so-called body broker business operated out of the same building as Sunset Mesa.
State officials contacted Tuesday said that the suspension order extends only to the funeral home and crematory and that the office “has no regulatory authority over Donor Services,” the body donation company.
Whether Donor Services, the body donation company, remained opencould not be immediately confirmed, but its number was also disconnected.
No federal US law governs the sale of cadavers or body parts for use in research or education, and few state laws – including those in Colorado – provide any oversight.