A former Colorado funeral dwelling proprietor pleaded responsible to secretly dissecting corpses and promoting physique components with out consent from mourning family members.
Megan Hess — who operated the Sundown Mesa funeral dwelling in Montrose and a human physique components enterprise referred to as Donor Companies from the identical constructing — admitted in federal court docket Tuesday to defrauding not less than a dozen households who had paid to have their late family members cremated.
As an alternative of cremating the our bodies, she harvested heads, spines, legs and arms after which bought them, based on court docket data.
Prosecutors are calling for Hess, who had beforehand pleaded not responsible, to be sentenced to 12 to fifteen years in jail. She has been out on bond since her arrest in 2020. Her protection lawyer has requested a lighter sentence of two years.
In 2009, Hess and her mom, Shirley Koch, launched a nonprofit donor companies group referred to as Sundown Mesa Funeral Basis, a “body-broker service” working out of the funeral dwelling doing enterprise that might promote physique components to 3rd events — principally for surgical coaching and different academic functions.
The pair charged prospects $1,000 or extra for cremations that by no means occurred. To maximise earnings, Hess focused poor and weak households, struggling as they made preparations of their family members’ ultimate days, based on court docket paperwork. She additionally supplied free cremations in change for a physique donation.
Many households acquired ashes combined with the stays of various cadavers, prosecutors mentioned. One shopper acquired a concrete combine as an alternative of the stays of their cherished one.
Hess solid dozens of body-donor consent varieties, federal investigators discovered. A former worker accused her of incomes $40,000 by extracting and promoting the gold tooth of among the deceased as a part of the macabre scheme, based on court docket paperwork.
“Assembly with hospice on the 4th… opening the floodgates of donors,” Hess wrote to a potential body-part purchaser in 2014. “They’ve 4 or 5 deaths a day. Prepare!!!!… How a few deal on full embalmed spines… $950?”
Whereas it’s unlawful to promote organs equivalent to hearts, kidneys and tendons for transplant in the US, the sale of cadavers and physique components to be used in analysis or training is just not regulated by federal regulation.
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