Almost 200 decomposing bodies removed from funeral home after investigation
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Almost 200 decomposing bodies have been removed from a Colorado funeral home, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The findings say that at least 189 bodies have been removed, which is much higher than the 115 that was previously reported when the story surfaced earlier this month.
The bodies were removed after neighbours reported an 'abhorrent', 'dead animal smell' in the area.
Deputies from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office in Colorado were dispatched to the Return to Nature Funeral Home on 3 October due to a suspicious incident, according to statement from the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at the time.
Upon responding to the incident, local authorities found around 115 decomposing bodies stored inside a space of about 2,500 square feet.
These bodies are said to be in such bad condition that they will need to be identified through DNA at a later date.
Fremont sheriff Allen Cooper described the air in the funeral home as 'horrific'.
An update was provided on Tuesday (17 October) by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation on behalf of Sheriff Cooper and Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller, who confirmed that the body count was a lot higher than was originally thought.
In a recently released statement, the CBI said: "On October 13, 2023, all decedents were removed from the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose. The effort was coordinated by the Fremont County Coroner’s Office with support from several entities.
"Teams removed at least 189 individuals and transported them to the El Paso County Coroner's Office. The total number of decedents could change as the identification and investigative processes continue."
The families of those deceased will be notified in due course, though local officials have been warned it may take months before the DNA testing is concluded.
Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller said: "We are conducting extensive coordination efforts as we focus on the identification of the deceased and provide notifications to ensure the families are given accurate information to prevent further victimization as they continue to grieve their loved ones."
Authorities have not disclosed what the funeral home was doing with the human remains, though they are working with the likes of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the FBI on the case.
Officials are now beginning the second phase of that investigation, with the CBI saying: "The second phase of this comprehensive process includes confirming identification and completing family notifications.
"Family notifications will be conducted by a team led by the Fremont County Coroner’s Office, victim advocates and others and this is expected to begin in the next several days."
There is no timeframe on when the investigation will be complete.