A Colorado funeral home has been shut down by regulators after claims that it secretly sold body parts in the hours after death.
The FBI is now investigating Megan Hess, the owner of Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, and her parents.
It was reported by Contact7 Chief Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski, who traveled to Montrose and talked to more than a half dozen family members who are now considered victims about what they describe as a scheme to profit from their pain.
“I go to sleep with the visions of him being dismembered with a power saw,” said Ruthie Pettyjohn. Her son’s body parts were allegedly sold.
Pettyjohn said she now lives with the memory of what happened to the body of her 26-year-old son, Brian.
“They desecrated his little body,” she said. “They cut him up in pieces and sent them all over the place.”
Connie Hanson found out during a phone call from an FBI agent that some of her son’s body parts were also sold.
“It’s sickening,” said Hanson. “[The FBI] told me his head was sent to so-and-so. His two shoulders went somewhere else. I said ‘I don’t want to hear anymore.’”
Alena Holloman was also a victim. Her mother’s body was allegedly dismembered and sold as well.
“I’ve been violated,” said Alena Holloman. “My mother and my mother’s body has been desecrated.”
She says she now feels guilt about even knowing what happened to her mother’s body.
“She was sold, embalmed and shipped out within just a few hours of her death,” said Holloman.
All of the victims believed they purchased cremation services for their loved ones. What they did NOT know was that their loved ones bodies would be dismembered and sold off.
Investigators say the funeral home owners used a power saw to create a product for the market. They then profited from the sale of arms, heads legs, torsos even whole bodies.
Family members describe Hess as a “body snatcher, vile, pure evil, sociopath”.
Jacque Hampson was interviewed by Contact7 and told the media outlet she spent a year working as Hess’s personal assistant.
She said that she heard bodies being dismembered.
“You could hear the machine going,” she told Kovaleski. “It was kind of creepy.”
Hess and her parents are all named in a lawsuit. It accuses them of using a backroom to dismember cadavers with a power saw and stack body parts in coolers.
According to the lawsuit, they sold tree torsos for $1,000, a pelvis with upper legs for $1,200. Heads went for $500 and $250 for a knee — prices at significantly discounted rates compared to other body brokers.
According to an estimate in the lawsuit, the three were making $40,000 a month from the sale of body parts.
There are now more than 50 families who claim Hess and her parents victimized them. Denver attorneys Mike Berg and Dave Teselle now represent those families.
“Think about it, the FBI came in and raided them, and they raided them because they knew this body broker — this was getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Berg. “Its tentacles go throughout not only the country but the world.”
The lawyers are demanding answers and closure for the families.
“These people deserve to know why what was done to them was done to them. Why their loved ones were stolen from them, and they were given back dry cement or sand and told it was loved ones’ ashes,” said Teselle.
The FBI says it hired a lab to test the cremains given to the families. They determined the boxes of ash contain cement, sand and other non-human particles.
In the Hanson’s box were even wires and what appear to be old batteries.
“I know these are not his ashes because his body parts went all over the country,” Hanson said.
Denver7 visited Hess’ home in Montrose, where they were greeted at the door by Hess’ father and told to leave the property.