Bail Reduced for Co-Owner of Funeral Home Where 190 Bodies Were Found

The Case Against Carrie Hallford

Carrie Hallford, the co-owner of the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado, is facing multiple charges of corpse abuse, theft, forgery, and fraud. She is accused of mishandling and improperly storing nearly 200 bodies at the funeral home, some of which were decomposing and emitting foul odors. She is also accused of stealing money and valuables from the deceased and their families, forging death certificates, and operating without a license.

The case against Hallford came to light in October 2023, when the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office received complaints from neighbors and former employees about the conditions at the funeral home. The authorities conducted a search and found 190 bodies in various states of decay, some in refrigerated trucks, some in sheds, and some in piles on the ground. The bodies were reportedly wrapped in sheets, plastic bags, or nothing at all. Some of the bodies had been there for months or even years, and some were unclaimed or unidentified.

The investigation revealed that Hallford and her husband, Jon Hallford, who is also facing charges, had been running the funeral home without a license since 2019, when their previous license expired. They had also been falsifying death certificates and cremation records, and charging families for services they never provided. The Hallfords allegedly took money, jewelry, and other items from the deceased and their relatives, and used them for their personal expenses.

The Bond Reduction Hearing

On Wednesday, January 17, 2024, Carrie Hallford appeared in court for a continuation of her preliminary hearing, which began last week in El Paso County. Her defense attorney, Michael Moran, argued that her bond was excessive and should be reduced. He claimed that Hallford was not a flight risk, as she had surrendered her passport and had no criminal history. He also said that Hallford was suffering from mental health issues and needed treatment.

Bail Reduced for Co-Owner of Funeral Home

The prosecution, led by District Attorney Dan May, opposed the bond reduction, citing the severity of the charges and the impact on the victims. May said that Hallford had shown a “callous disregard” for the dead and their families, and that she had violated their trust and dignity. He also said that Hallford had access to money and assets that could help her flee the country.

After hearing both sides, Judge Gregory Werner decided to reduce Hallford’s bond from $2 million to $100,000. He said that he considered the factors of public safety, flight risk, and the presumption of innocence. He also imposed several conditions on Hallford’s release, such as wearing a GPS monitor, having no contact with the victims or the co-defendant, and undergoing mental health evaluation and treatment.

The Reaction of the Victims’ Families

The bond reduction decision was met with shock and anger by some of the families of the alleged victims of the Return to Nature Funeral Home. They said that they felt betrayed and disappointed by the justice system, and that Hallford deserved to stay in jail until her trial. They said that Hallford had caused them immense pain and suffering, and that they wanted her to be held accountable for her actions.

One of the families was that of Roberta Salazar, who died in June 2023 at the age of 74. Her daughter, Monica Salazar, said that she had entrusted Hallford with her mother’s body, and paid her $3,000 for cremation and burial services. However, she never received her mother’s ashes, and later learned that her mother’s body was among those found at the funeral home. She said that she felt “sick to her stomach” when she heard that Hallford’s bond was reduced, and that she wanted her to “rot in jail”.

Another family was that of James Clark, who died in July 2023 at the age of 68. His son, Jason Clark, said that he had hired Hallford to cremate his father’s body, and paid her $1,500 for the service. However, he never received his father’s ashes, and later discovered that his father’s body was still at the funeral home. He said that he felt “outraged” and “disgusted” by the bond reduction, and that he wanted Hallford to “pay for what she did”.

The Next Steps in the Case

The case against Carrie Hallford and Jon Hallford is still ongoing, and they have not entered pleas yet. They are both facing 24 counts of corpse abuse, 12 counts of theft, four counts of forgery, and one count of fraud. They are also facing civil lawsuits from some of the families of the alleged victims, who are seeking damages for emotional distress, breach of contract, and negligence.

The next court date for Carrie Hallford is scheduled for February 7, 2024, when she will have a status conference. The next court date for Jon Hallford is scheduled for February 14, 2024, when he will have a preliminary hearing. The judge has not ruled on his bond reduction request yet.

The authorities have also been working on identifying and notifying the families of the 190 bodies found at the funeral home, and arranging for their proper disposition. They have asked anyone who has information or concerns about the case to contact the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at (719) 276-5555.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *