May 25, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

In the United States, a trial has begun against the owners of a funeral home who cynically deceived the families of the deceased and dumped bodies in an abandoned house.

In an American town in Colorado, families discovered their “cremated” relatives in an abandoned house – there were almost 200 rotting bodies there.

Some of them, given by relatives for cremation at a funeral home and discovered in a state of deep decomposition in an abandoned building infested with worms, lay there for several years. After reports of a putrid odor lingering in the mountain town of Colorado Springs, authorities found the remains of 190 people there last October.

Families who turned to Return to Nature to cremate their deceased relatives told The Associated Press that the FBI confirmed their remains were among the decomposing bodies.

A couple, funeral home owners John Holford and his wife Carey Holford, are on trial in Colorado. They kept the bodies in terrible conditions, literally thrown in a heap, and lied to relatives about cremation, reports Associated Press. They simply left them to rot in a building in the nearby rural community of Penrose, which was literally infested with maggots and flies.

The Holfords spent the money they paid for “cremation and burial” on a grand scale on cars, cryptocurrency, luxurious dinners in Las Vegas and expensive things. Now they are on trial for mutilation of the bodies of the dead, theft and forgery of documents.

According to FBI agent Andrew Cohen, the building contained makeshift refrigeration units that were no longer working and the floor was covered in cadaveric fluid. The half-covered remains of adults and infants were piled up. As it turned out, some of them were stored there for about 4 years. At least 23 people died in 2019. Probably the relatives were given fake ashes. Police say: “Law enforcement now know that the ashes each family received could not have belonged to their loved one.”

Several families who hired Return to Nature to cremate their relatives have confirmed that their loved ones’ remains were among the bodies recovered. Law enforcement authorities handed over most of them to the families of the deceased, but 22 bodies still remain unidentified.

The funeral home owner couple was arrested in Oklahoma in November 2023 while trying to escape justice. They were jailed with bail set at $2 million. Carey Holford had a hearing last month, and John is due to hear the charges on February 8th.

Prosecutors provided the court with the couple’s correspondence, which proves that they tried to hide their financial difficulties. The husband and wife also discussed how to hide the bodies, since John, back in 2020, was afraid that he would be caught. He suggested disposing of the bodies by dumping them in a large pit and then treating them with lye or burning them.

The Holfords are being tried on 190 counts of desecration of a deceased body, 5 of theft, 4 of money laundering and more than 50 of forgery. Neither spouse has yet pleaded guilty.

It is worth noting that Colorado is the only state that does not regulate funeral homes. The terrible precedent of Return to Nature has renewed the debate about the need to license such institutions. Last year, American regulators received more than 60 complaints about the activities of funeral homes and crematoria.

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