Mother and daughter sentenced for selling human body parts, shipping them by mail

News & Politics

A mother and daughter duo who operated a funeral home in Colorado have been sentenced after pleading guilty to charges related to selling body parts, according to TimCast.

Megan Hess, the former owner of the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, Colorado, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Her mother, Shirley Koch, got 15 years behind bars in one of the more bizarre criminal cases in recent history. They had previously admitted guilt for one count of mail fraud and aiding and abetting under a plea agreement.

According to a Department of Justice press release, the mother and daughter, despite lacking any authorization, “recovered body parts from, or otherwise prepared entire bodies of hundreds of decedents for body broker services.”

“We hope these prison sentences will bring the victim’s family members some amount of peace as they move forward in the grieving process,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan, who echoed sentiments of other officials who said the actions were motivated by greed.

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“Without knowledge or consent, the women disrespected the wishes of the grieving victims and degraded the bodies of their family members to sell them for profit,” said FBI Denver Acting Special Agent in Charge Leonard Carollo.

“These two criminals continued in their atrocities for years, showing no remorse or contrition even after they were exposed,” he added.

In a 2020 DOJ press release, authorities revealed that the duo would often offer services of cremation for $1,000 with the remains to be returned to the family, but some of the cremations never happened.

The convicted women start a nonprofit and, in at least a dozen instances, sold “bodies or body parts to third parties. In the few instances where families agreed to donation, Hess and Koch sold the remains of those decedents beyond what was authorized by the family.”

Hess and Koch would ship bodies of people who died from “infectious diseases, including Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, after certifying to buyers that the remains were disease free,” according to the document.

In 2022, it was announced that a documentary movie was being developed around the crimes. The film has since been announced under the title “Cremains Unknown.”

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