Home / World News / Montrose funeral home whose owner also operates a business selling human body parts under state investigation – The Denver Post

Montrose funeral home whose owner also operates a business selling human body parts under state investigation – The Denver Post

Colorado regulators are investigating nine complaints against a Montrose funeral home whose owner also operates a company out of the same building selling human body parts.

In addition, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been questioning former employees of the business as part of a separate inquiry, according to a report this month by the Reuters news agency. One ex-employee told Reuters of gold teeth removed from cadavers at the body parts business and sold to pay for a Disney vacation, among other details.

But it is also not illegal under Colorado law to sell body parts for profit from cadavers that are donated to such brokers. And the Reuters report contained no allegations that bodies sent to the funeral home only for burial or cremation ended up on the business’ body broker side.

The scrutiny falls on Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors, the funeral home, and Donor Services, the body parts company. Both are registered in state records at the same Montrose address and linked to Megan Hess, who is listed on Sunset Mesa’s website as the funeral home’s owner. Both are registered as trade names for the Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation, which is set up as a nonprofit corporation.

Together, they form a business unlike any other in America. No other funeral home in the country shares a building with a body parts broker. Such brokers generally sell body parts to research or educational institutions, according to Reuters.

Lee Rasizer, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, which oversees funeral homes, said he could not provide any details about the complaints because the investigations into them are ongoing.

“The number of complaints against Sunset Mesa Funeral Homes is higher than the average range of the number of complaints filed against other funeral establishments,” Rasizer wrote in an email to The Denver Post.

Rasizer said possible outcomes of the investigation vary all the way from dismissal of the complaints to revocation of the funeral home’s license. A search of state licensing records turns up no previous disciplinary actions against Sunset Mesa. Colorado does not require a license for body brokers or for individual funeral directors.

A spokeswoman for the FBI in Colorado said she could not confirm whether the bureau is investigating Sunset Mesa.

A phone message and an email to a Montrose attorney representing Sunset Mesa were not returned. In an interview with Reuters in 2016, Hess said she viewed the body parts operation as a public service because it helped facilitate research and medical education.

“It’s for the good of the world, and I like to help people,” she said.

Reuters’ report on Sunset Mesa is part of a longer investigation the news agency has conducted of body brokers in America. Brokers often obtain cadavers when someone chooses to donate their body to science, but brokers can then turn around and sell the cadaver — in whole or in parts — for profit.

At Sunset Mesa, the funeral home charged $695 for cremation and $1,995 for a basic burial, according to price lists that Reuters’ reporters viewed. But, if a person chose to donate their body to Donor Services, the charge was $195, according to Reuters. It cost $300 more if a family wanted some remains to be cremated and returned to them.

Hess told Reuters that she and her mother, who also works at the facility, dealt with about 10 cadavers a month through Donor Services, and that the operation accounted for about 15 percent of her overall business.

When selling body parts to labs, Donor Services charged $1,000 for torsos, $1,200 for a pelvis and upper legs and $500 for a head, according to price lists and quotes reviewed by Reuters. One former employee of a related business told Reuters that Hess’ mother one day showed her a collection of gold teeth removed from cadavers. The employee said Hess’ mother talked of selling a similar collection the year prior and using it to pay for a vacation to Disneyland.

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