A former funeral home owner in Colorado pleaded guilty to secretly dissecting bodies and selling body parts without the consent of grieving relatives.
Megan Hess, who ran the Sunset Mesa funeral home in Montrose as well as Donor Services, a human body parts business, did admit in federal court Tuesday to swindling at least a dozen households who had hired her to have their late family members cremated.
According to court records, rather than cremating the carcasses, she harvested and managed to sell the heads, spines, arms, and legs.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 12 to 15 years in prison for Hess, who previously pleaded not guilty. Since her arrest in 2020, she has been released on bond. Her defense attorney has asked for a two-year sentence reduction.
In 2009, Hess and her mom, Shirley Koch, established the Sunset Mesa Funeral Foundation, a nonprofit donor services organization that operated out of the funeral parlor, selling body parts to third parties primarily for medical training and other educational activities.
Customers were charged $1,000 or more for burial or cremation that never took place. According to court documents, Hess targeted poor and disadvantaged families who were struggling to make accommodations for their relatives’ final days in order to turn a profit. In exchange for a body donation, she also offered free cremations.
According to prosecutors, numerous families received ashes blended with the remnants of various cadavers. Instead of the remains of a loved one, one client attained a concrete mix.
Federal investigators discovered that Hess modified dozens of body donor consent forms. According to court papers, a former employee accused her of earning $40,000 by removing and selling the gold fillings & teeth of some of the dearly departed as part of the greedy horror scheme.
While it is illegal in the United States to sell organs such as hearts, kidneys, and tendons for transplant, the selling of corpses and body parts for analysis or education is not.