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Former funeral home owner and her mother jailed 35 years for sale of body parts

A court has convicted and sentenced a 46-year-old former funeral home owner to 20 years imprisonment while her 69-year-old mother gets 15 years for selling dead body parts without the consent of relatives.

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Megan Hess and her mother Shirly Koch cut 560 corpses into pieces between 2010 and 2018 and then sold them to training companies which did not know they had been fraudulently acquired, the BBC reports.

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The heartbreaking development took place in Colorado, US where it is legal in the US to donate organs, but not sell them.

“Hess – who ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in the town of Montrose – charged families up to $1,000 (£834) for cremations that never took place and offered them free of charge in exchange for body part donations in some cases, prosecutors said.

“Without consent and using forged donor forms, she then sold body parts including arms, legs and heads through Donor Services, her side business on the same premises.

“Several relatives who had used Hess for cremations later learned they had received back ashes mixed with the remains of other people,” the news outlet reports.

A Reuters investigation inspired the FBI to raid the funeral home in question home in 2018 for evidence, leading to the arrest and prosecution of the mother and daughter.

In a statement, Leonard Carollo, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Denver described the crime as heartless.

“These two women preyed on vulnerable victims who turned to them in a time of grief and sadness.

“But instead of offering guidance, these greedy women betrayed the trust of hundreds of victims and mutilated their loved ones,” the statement read in part.

On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, when Judge Christine Arguello pronounced judgement on the case, she said it was “the most emotionally draining case I have ever experienced on the bench”.

Some victims of the crime expressed disappointment and sadness over how the convicts took advantage of their grief to make fraudulent wealth.

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