Mother and daughter morticians in Colorado were arrested after they were accused of charging $1,000 for cremations they often wouldn’t carry out and for selling bodies and body parts, some of them diseased, without permission from grieving relatives.
Megan Hess, 43, and her mother, Shirley Koch, 66, were charged with six counts of mail fraud involving 38 decedents and three counts of illegal transportation of hazardous materials, says the US Justice Department in an unsealed indictment.
In one case it is alleged that the women shipped a head infected with hepatitis-C in the mail and on commercial flights.
The indictment says that from 2010 through 2018, Hess and Koch operated Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors in Montrose, which offered burial and cremation services.
The pair would allegedly offer to cremate decedents’ bodies and return the remains back to the families for as much as $1,000 or more, with many of the cremations never occurring, the Montrose Daily Press reports.
Authorities said the mother and daughter morticians even had a container in their office containing the cremated remains of multiple people.
The women also were alleged to have sold diseased body parts through a non-profit body brokerage business, which they also owned.
Authorities say the pair provided altered documents assuring buyers that body parts had tested negative for any infectious diseases. The reality, however, was the opposite, according to the indictment.
The charge against the women regarding hazardous materials relates to heads of dead people who had tested positive for hepatitis-C.
On other occasions, the women allegedly just sent the parts without documentation.
The indictment charges that the mother and daughter used the funeral home to supply the body brokerage business.