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Police: Body of deceased woman, 30 human cremains found at house after ex-funeral home owner evicted

Feb 16, 2024, 11:11 AM | Updated: 12:36 pm

DENVER (AP) — Colorado authorities issued an arrest warrant Friday for a former funeral home owner they say kept a deceased woman’s body in a hearse for two years at a home where police also found up to 30 cremated remains.

The grisly discovery occurred Feb. 6 during a court-ordered eviction of a Denver house rented by 33-year-old Miles Harford, who owned Apollo Funeral and Cremation Services in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Denver police said. It had been closed since September 2022.

The discovery is the latest in a string of horrific cases in recent years involving mishandled bodies by funeral home operators in Colorado, which has some of the weakest oversight of the funeral industry in the nation. The state has no routine inspections of funeral homes or qualification requirements for operators.

One married couple is awaiting trial in Colorado Springs following their arrest last year for allegedly abandoning almost 200 bodies over several years inside a bug-infested facility and giving fake ashes to family members of the deceased. The operators of another funeral home in the western Colorado city of Montrose received federal prison sentences last year for mail fraud after they were accused of selling body parts and distributing fake ashes.

Harford, who police said is not on the run and is cooperating, is expected to be charged with abuse of a corpse, forgery of the death certificate and theft of the money paid for the cremation. Other charges are possible as the investigation continues, said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.

No voicemail was set up on a telephone number listed for Harford. He also did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark said Harford acknowledged to police that he could not find a crematory to process the 63-year-old woman’s body and decided to store it in the hearse. The woman’s family told investigators they were given what they believed were the woman’s remains, which have been turned over to the Office of the Medical Examiner.

The family is devastated, Clark said.

“They’re shocked. They were hurt by this,” he said. “They believed that they were processing their grief with the remains that they had and had had services with that. And then they come to find out that that was not the person that was processed, and in fact, she was being held in that hearse there.”

The other cremains found on the property appear to have been professionally cremated, officials said. Investigators are checking labels on the cremains and state databases in an effort to return the cremains to their families. DNA testing cannot be used, officials said.

State licensing records show no discipline or board actions for Apollo Funeral and Cremation Services. The business license was issued in March 2012 and expired in May 2022.

In 2018, Harford and his company were sued by another funeral home company and ordered to pay about $27,000 for unspecified services the other home provided, according to court records. The same company, Kansas-based Wilbert Funeral Services, sued Harford and the company again in 2021, saying Harford owed nearly $9,000. That case is still pending.

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Police: Body of deceased woman, 30 human cremains found at house after ex-funeral home owner evicted