In a twist on modern day grave robbery, a mother and daughter team have sold hundreds of bodies from their funeral home. Instead of receiving the cremated remains of loved ones, families have been given the cremains of strangers, and even foreign filler material.
The mother-daughter ran scam has been going on for nearly 10 years out of their funeral home in Montrose, Colorado.
The Sunset Mesa Funeral Home opened its doors in 2009 by mother and daughter Megan Hess and Shirley Koch. That year they began a non profit donor service out of the funeral home. However, families were not aware the bodies of their loved ones were being sold illegally from the funeral home.
Those who purchased these bodies included those in the medical field, educators, and scientists.
To make the situation even more grisly, entire bodies were not always what were in demand. Instead. limbs were the products the buyers were interested in, so Hess and Koch provided body parts that were requested from their buyers.
Heads, torsos, legs, arms, everything had a price tag to these women. They even extracted the gold teeth from the bodies and used the money to take their family to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
According to the indictment, the selling of bodies and body parts were so lucrative that the mother and daughter team were able to offer lower costs for their services than their competitors. The low prices for the customers and high prices for the bodies made for a highly lucrative rotating door for Sunset Mesa.
As dishonest and heinous this criminal enterprise proved to be, it was also a lucrative one. Authorities claimed these two women made hundreds of thousands of dollars conducting their macabre activities.
While the women are each faced with 135 years behind bars, many families don’t feel this is enough to rectify not knowing where the bodies of their loved ones are.
Nastassja Olson, a client of the funeral home, trusted the women with her mother after her death. Olson noted she was initially creeped out by Hess, and her suspicions grew when she and her family were not allowed to be alone with her mother’s body. The final nail in the coffin came when Olson went through her mother’s cremains and found things that had no place in being there.
“I found a bunch of stuff in the ashes that just seemed like it shouldn’t really be there. A bunch of weird metal pieces – almost looked like metal tacks and screws.”
Connie Hanson, a previous customer of the funeral home, found the same type of materials when reviewing the cremains of her son Fredrick “Rick” Hanson as revealed in the picture below.
When asked for her opinion on the verdict for the mother and daughter con artists, Olson replied;
I think it will bring me some closure knowing that she isn’t allowed to do this anymore and there’s some justice out there. She gets to suffer. She gets to suffer in prison for a long time.”
Unfortunately the black market has a high demand for bodies and body parts, and as long as the demand is there people will continue to find ways to provide for profit.