Almost 200 Bodies Found Rotting, Couple Charged

Jon and Carie Hallford, a couple from Colorado, are facing serious charges after allegedly misusing funds from their “eco-friendly” funeral home business, Return to Nature. Court documents reveal that the couple used the money, which was meant for biodegradable burials and cremations, to finance a lavish lifestyle that included luxury vehicles, cryptocurrency investments, and high-end jewelry.

The Hallfords marketed their funeral home as a return to traditional burial methods, offering services for up to $1,895. However, instead of honoring their commitments, the couple reportedly spent the money on extravagant purchases such as a $92,566 GMC Yukon XL and a $28,336 Infiniti SUV.

From 2019 to 2023, the Hallfords also allegedly indulged in lavish trips to Las Vegas and California, and spent thousands of dollars at luxury retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Gucci. Meanwhile, the bodies they were entrusted with were reportedly stored in deplorable conditions, with 189 bodies left unrefrigerated in a room infested with bugs and showing signs of liquid decomposition.

The couple’s alleged misconduct extended to the treatment of the remains. Some bodies were reportedly stacked on top of each other or stored together in body bags wrapped in sheets and bound with duct tape. In some instances, families were allegedly given bags of mixed concrete instead of their loved ones’ ashes.

When authorities executed a search warrant at the Penrose facility last fall, they found the storage areas’ floors slick with the liquid of human decomposition, posing a risk to officials removing the bodies. Even when the Hallfords did perform burials, they made serious mistakes, including burying a female body in a grave at Pikes Peak National Cemetery intended for a male Army veteran.

The case against the Hallfords is moving forward, with both set to be arraigned on charges including abuse of a corpse, forgery, and money laundering related to their purchases on March 21. Jon Hallford was released from jail after posting a $100,000 bond in January, while Carie Hallford remains in custody with a $100,000 bond.

The case has left many victims’ families distraught. Danica Romero, whose sister was supposed to be cremated by Return to Nature after her unexpected death in December 2019, expressed her outrage in court, calling the couple’s actions “absolutely despicable.”