FBI: Couple Could Easily Have Afforded to Cremate Bodies

Instead, they abandoned bodies and spent money on vehicles and other personal items, prosecutors say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 9, 2024 4:17 AM CST
FBI: Couple Abandoned Bodies, Spent Cremation Money
Chrystina Page, right, holds back Heather De Wolf as she yells at Jon Hallford, left, the owner of Back to Nature Funeral Home, as he leaves with his lawyers following a preliminary hearing, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, outside the El Paso County Judicial Building in Colorado Spring.   (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)

Two Colorado funeral home owners accused of abandoning nearly 200 bodies took payments from families that were meant for cremations and burials and instead bought vehicles, cryptocurrency, a $1,500 dinner in Las Vegas, and other personal items, prosecutors and an FBI agent said Thursday. In a courtroom packed with families of the deceased, FBI Agent Andrew Cohen said that Jon and Carie Hallford used payments from the families to buy two vehicles—a GMC Yukon and an Infiniti—for more than $120,000, enough to cover cremation costs twice over for all of the bodies found in their business' storage facility in Penrose, Colorado, last October, the AP reports.

Some of the bodies had been in the maggot-infested building for years before they were discovered following reports of a foul odor permeating the small mountain town. Families who hired the Return to Nature Funeral Home to cremate their relatives have told the AP that the FBI confirmed their remains were among the decaying bodies. The testimony about the Hallfords' spending practices came during a hearing in which a judge determined prosecutors presented enough evidence to show Jon Hallford should stand trial on criminal charges. The judge previously ruled that Carie Hallford will also stand trial. The couple were arrested in Oklahoma in November.

The couple, who owned the funeral home in Colorado Springs and stored bodies in nearby Penrose, are each charged with 190 counts of abuse of a corpse, five counts of theft, four counts of money laundering, and over 50 counts of forgery. According to prosecutors, Jon Hallford was worried about getting caught as far back as 2020 and suggested getting rid of the bodies by dumping them in a big hole, then treating them with lye or setting them on fire. "My one and only focus is keeping us out of jail," he allegedly wrote in one text message. Jon Hallford was released from the El Paso County jail in late January after posting a $100,000 bond. Carie Halford remained in jail on Thursday on a $100,000 bond.

(More funeral home stories.)

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