DENVER (AP) — A financially troubled former funeral residence proprietor saved a deceased girl’s physique in a hearse for 2 years at a home the place police additionally discovered the cremated stays of no less than 30 folks, authorities mentioned Friday within the newest case to underscore lax oversight of Colorado’s funeral business.

The grisly discovery occurred Feb. 6 throughout a court-ordered eviction of a home rented by Miles Harford, the 33-year-old proprietor of Apollo Funeral and Cremation Providers within the Denver suburb of Littleton, police mentioned. It had been closed since September 2022.

“Mr. Harford seems to have skilled monetary bother in his enterprise. At instances he was not capable of full cremations to offer stays to households for providers,” Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark mentioned Friday. He mentioned from time to time, Harford may need supplied relations with one other particular person’s ashes as an alternative of the ashes of their family members.

Short-term urns — plastic bins the dimensions of a shoe field — had been discovered within the crawl area of the home whereas a Denver sheriff’s deputy oversaw the removing of Harford’s belongings, Clark mentioned. A number of the bins had been empty.

Different urns had been present in a transferring truck parked exterior and nonetheless others had been in a hearse, the place investigators discovered the lady’s physique lined with blankets, Clark mentioned. Harford mentioned she died in August of 2022.

The recovered cremains look like related to people who handed away between 2012 and 2021, he mentioned.

Authorities have been in touch with Harford and an arrest warrant was issued for him Friday. He is believed to be within the Denver space and police had been “working to facilitate his arrest,” Clark mentioned, including that Harford has been cooperative with investigators.

Former buyer Crystallyn Nunez mentioned it took months to get the ashes of her grandfather and father again from Harford after they died in 2021.

Repeated cellphone calls and texts had been met with a sequence of excuses, she mentioned. Harford at one level mentioned he was in a automotive crash whereas transporting the stays, then later claimed his mom had gotten into an accident whereas making an attempt to ship them, Nunez mentioned. When the household supplied to return choose them up, Harford danced across the problem, she mentioned.

She bought her grandfather’s ashes after a couple of months and her father’s ashes after practically a yr, however by no means acquired necklaces containing their stays that the household had paid for, she mentioned. Nunez mentioned her household already had doubts that that they had acquired the proper stays. The invention at Harford’s home solely strengthened these fears.

“It’s making our complete household query whether or not or not every little thing was executed the proper method,” mentioned Nunez. Her household has contacted police to find out if they’ve the proper stays.

The invention is the most recent in a string of horrific circumstances involving funeral residence operators in Colorado, which has a number of the weakest oversight of the funeral business within the nation. The state has no routine inspections of funeral houses or qualification necessities for operators.

A married couple is awaiting trial in Colorado Springs following their arrest final yr for allegedly abandoning almost 200 bodies over a number of years inside a bug-infested facility and giving fake ashes to relations of the deceased. The operators of one other funeral residence within the western Colorado metropolis of Montrose acquired federal prison sentences final yr for mail fraud after they had been accused of promoting physique elements and distributing pretend ashes.

Greater than two dozen extra criminal cases and complaints involving Colorado funeral houses since 2007 had been detailed in a January report back to lawmakers from state regulators. The circumstances included our bodies being mishandled, thefts of non-public results, improper embalming of our bodies, mislabeled stays and stays by no means returned to households. The report concluded that extra regulation for the business was “mandatory to guard the general public.”

Harford is predicted to be charged with abuse of a corpse, forgery of the demise certificates and theft of the cash paid for the cremation. Different prices are potential because the investigation continues, mentioned Denver District Lawyer Beth McCann.

No voicemail was arrange on a phone quantity listed for Harford. He additionally didn’t instantly reply to emails in search of remark.

Clark mentioned Harford acknowledged to police that he owed cash to a number of crematories within the space and none would cremate the 63-year-old girl’s physique, so he determined to retailer her physique within the hearse. Her household informed investigators they got what they believed had been the lady’s ashes, which have been turned over to the Workplace of the Medical Examiner.

The household is devastated, Clark mentioned.

“They’re shocked. They had been damage by this,” he mentioned. “They believed that they had been processing their grief with the stays that that they had and had had providers with that. After which they arrive to search out out that that was not the person who was processed, and in reality, she was being held in that hearse there.”

The opposite cremains discovered on the property seem to have been professionally cremated, officers mentioned. Investigators are checking labels on the cremains and state databases and assembly with households.

“As you possibly can think about, these are extraordinarily tough conversations to have and the knowledge comes as a shock to lots of the households, a number of of whom believed that they had all the stays of their liked one,” Clark mentioned.

State licensing data present no self-discipline or board actions for Apollo Funeral and Cremation Providers, which was licensed from March 2012 by Could 2022.

In 2018, Harford and his firm had been sued by one other funeral residence firm and ordered to pay about $27,000 for unspecified providers the opposite residence supplied, in keeping with court docket data. The identical firm, Kansas-based Wilbert Funeral Providers, sued Harford and the corporate once more in 2021, saying Harford owed practically $9,000. That case continues to be pending.

Final yr, a lady who mentioned she was Harford’s former employer sought a court docket order to maintain him away from her over alleged harassment. In her utility, she mentioned she had paid Harford to cremate two of her pets however he did not return them to her. There’s no indication in court docket data that the order was granted.


Hanson reported from Helena, Mont. Related Press reporter Thomas Peipert contributed to this story.

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