A former funeral palour owner in Colorado, United States, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for “defrauding relatives of the dead by dissecting 560 corpses and selling body parts without permission.”
While appearing before U.S. District Judge Christine M. Arguello during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing in Grand Junction, Colorado, the convict,
Megan Hess, 46, pleaded guilty to the charges.
Federal prosecutor, Tim Neff, told the court that Hess operated a funeral home, Sunset Mesa, and a body parts entity, Donor Services, from the same building in Montrose, Colorado.
Hess’s 69-year-old mother, Shirley Koch, also pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to 15 years for her role in chopping up and packaging the bodies for sale.
“Hess and Koch used their funeral home at times to essentially steal bodies and body parts using fraudulent and forged donor forms,” Neff said.
“Hess and Koch’s conduct caused immense emotional pain for the families and next of kin,” he added.
The case was triggered by an investigative series by Reuters between 2016-2018 about the sale of body parts in the United States, which the media outfit said was a virtually unregulated industry.
Former workers had confessed to Reuters that Hess and Koch conducted unauthorized dismemberments of bodies, and a few weeks after the story was published, the FBI raided the business.
In their filing, prosecutors stressed the “macabre nature” of Hess’ scheme and described it as one of the most significant body parts cases in recent U.S. history.
“This is the most emotionally draining case I have ever experienced on the bench,” U.S. District Judge Christine M. Arguello said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing in Grand Junction, Colorado.
“It’s concerning to the court that defendant Hess refuses to assume any responsibility for her conduct.”
Join the conversation
Support Ripples Nigeria, hold up solutions journalism
Balanced, fearless journalism driven by data comes at huge financial costs.
As a media platform, we hold leadership accountable and will not trade the right to press freedom and free speech for a piece of cake.
If you like what we do, and are ready to uphold solutions journalism, kindly donate to the Ripples Nigeria cause.
Your support would help to ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for societal development.
INVESTIGATION: 4 yrs after completion, Kwara PHC facility inactive, rural dwellers in pains
In the middle of the night sometime in September 2019, Fatimah Ballah struggled with severe pains as she tries to...
INVESTIGATION: How Oyo State, contractors spent N1.1bn on water projects, but communities don’t have a drop
Multimillion naira water projects largely initiated by the late Abiola Ajimobi-led state government in Oyo State to benefit over 40...
INVESTIGATION: In Cross River, civil servants retire into poverty as govt looks away, squanders funds on frivolities
Thousands of civil servants in Cross River State struggle to stay alive as they are denied their gratuities and monthly...
Students suffer as contractors abandon Kano school projects after receiving over N70m
In 2019, to improve the condition of public schools in Kano State, the Federal Government disbursed millions of naira to...
SPECIAL REPORT: World Bank road projects go bad in Enugu, as state govt fails to fulfill promise
Counterpart funded road projects between the world Bank and Enugu State government have started to fail, as the state government...