January 4, 2023
The director of a funeral home in Colorado was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday for charges including fraud, after illegally selling bodies or body parts from more than 500 victims without the consent of their families.
Megan Hess, 46, ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, Colorado, and pleaded guilty to mail fraud and aiding and abetting. Hess’s 69-year-old mother, Shirley Koch, had also admitted to charges of mail fraud and aiding and abetting as part of a plea deal, and was sentenced to 15 years.
It is legal to sell human remains, and a Reuters investigation found that the body broker industry was not closely regulated in many states. However, the government said agents had confirmed that hundreds of the bodies sold by Hess had been stolen, as the families had not given informed consent for how the bodies would be used. It is also illegal to sell infected body parts.