At least 189 decaying bodies were removed from a Colorado funeral home that offers green burial services – up from the initial 115 reported two weeks ago, officials said.
Authorities were initially alerted due to reports of a noxious odor emanating from The Return to Nature funeral home.
One official described the situation as “horrifying” and “hazardous.”
The FBI is assisting in the identification process of the recently discovered bodies.
Situated in Penrose, Colorado, approximately 30 miles (48km) south of Colorado Springs, this funeral home specializes in eco-friendly burials, abstaining from the use of chemicals, including embalming fluid, and utilizing biodegradable caskets for interments.
On October 13, the additional human remains were removed and transported to the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. Authorities stated that the count of bodies may change further as identification efforts progress.
“While the investigation for this incident continues, we also remain focused on the impacted families,” said Fremont County Sheriff Allen Cooper. “We want to do all we can to provide the families the support they need as we shift to the next phase in this process.”
The funeral home drew the attention of authorities after 115 bodies were found on the premises in early October. Jon Hallford, the funeral home’s owner, faced allegations of trying to hide the “inappropriate storage of human remains.”
While green funerals are permissible in the state, regulations require that remains be interred within 24 hours or adequately refrigerated.
Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller had previously cautioned that the process of identifying the bodies would be extended, given the necessity to obtain forensic information such as fingerprints and DNA.