In the USA, the owner of a funeral home is said to have illegally sold body parts for years. Now the 45-year-old has pleaded guilty in federal court.

A Colorado undertaker has admitted to a court that she had illegally traded body parts for years. The 45-year-old now faces several years in prison.

From 2010 to 2018, she and her mother ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, a small town in Colorado. There the ladies offered funeral and cremation services. They charged $1,000 or more for cremation. But many cremations never took place, according to prosecutors.

In 2009, Hess also founded the non-profit Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation, Donor Services, a funeral service operated from the same building. When the Reuters news agency reported on her company in 2016, she described it as a small family business where her father ran the crematorium. At the time, she explained that the donor service was only about 15 percent of her total business, but that it “performed an important public service.” But in truth, she is said to have made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling body parts.

Undertaker is said to have sold hundreds of bodies or body parts

According to the court documents, the company used the low prices of its funeral services to ensure a steady supply of body parts for sale.

She is said to have ignored the family’s wishes and failed to obtain permission to transfer the bodies or body parts of the deceased to a third party. Signatures on consent forms were forged and families misled about how the remains of their loved ones would be treated.

She sometimes obtained family consent to donate small tissue samples or tumors from her deceased relatives, according to the indictment. On other occasions her request was denied and sometimes she did not bring up the subject at all. Many families received ashes mixed with the remains of various bodies, according to prosecutors. A customer received a concrete mix instead of the remains of his loved one.

In each case, the documents state, she resold heads, torsos, arms, legs, or entire human bodies for research purposes or surgical training. She often delivered cremated remains to families claiming that they were the remains of their relatives, when in fact they were not. Some of those body parts also belonged to people with infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis – information she is said to have withheld from buyers.

Undertaker is said to have even pulled teeth and sold the gold

She is also said to have pulled the teeth of some corpses to extract the gold from crowns or fillings, as a former employee reported to the FBI, according to the Reuters news agency. With the money she earned from selling gold, she is said to have financed a trip to Disneyland for her family, among other things.

On Tuesday, the undertaker pleaded guilty in federal court in Grand Juntion, Colorado, to defrauding at least a dozen families seeking cremation for deceased loved ones. “I’ve exceeded the scope of consent and I’m trying to make amends,” she is quoted as saying by the “Daily Sentinel”. “I take responsibility”. The entrepreneur is expected to be sentenced in January. You face up to 15 years in prison.

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Quellen: US Attorney’s Office Colorado ,”The Daily Sentinel”, Reuters