UNITED STATES NEWS

A former funeral home owner has been arrested after a corpse lay in a hearse for 2 years

Feb 23, 2024, 10:26 AM

DENVER (AP) — A former funeral home owner accused of hiding a woman’s corpse in the back of a hearse for two years and hoarding the cremated remains of at least 30 people has been arrested, authorities said.

Thursday night’s arrest of Miles Harford, 33, is the latest allegation of misconduct by Colorado funeral home owners, a string that includes the discovery of nearly 200 decomposing bodies at a funeral home. The horrifying finds have underscored the laxness of state funeral home regulations and pressed lawmakers to try to strengthen the laws.

A grisly scene of urns stashed around the Harford property, from the crawl space to the hearse where the woman’s body lay under blankets, was uncovered in early February during a court-ordered eviction at his home, police said.

Harford owned Apollo Funeral and Cremation Services in the Denver suburb of Littleton, police have said, and the hoarded cremains appear to be those of people who died from 2012 to 2021. The funeral home has been closed since September 2022.

A warrant lists potential charges of abuse of a corpse, forgery of the death certificate, and theft of the money paid for the woman’s cremation, though Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said previously that other charges are possible.

Police initially said Harford was cooperative when the arrest warrant was announced last week. But by Thursday, police couldn’t find him and offered a $2,000 award for information leading to his arrest.

Available court documents did not yet list a defense attorney who could comment on Harford’s behalf. No voicemail was set up at a telephone listing for Harford, and he has not responded to emails seeking comment.

Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark previously said, in an interview before an arrest warrant was issued, that Harford acknowledged to police that he owed money to several crematories in the area and that none would cremate the 63-year-old woman’s body, so he decided to store it in the hearse. Her family told investigators they were given what they believed were the woman’s ashes, which have been turned over to a medical examiner’s office.

Harford’s arrest follows the discovery of 190 decaying bodies in a bug-infested building run by the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, Colorado, about two hours south of Denver.

A married couple who owned Return to Nature are awaiting trial in Colorado Springs following their arrest last year on allegations they gave fake ashes to relatives 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.

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Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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A former funeral home owner has been arrested after a corpse lay in a hearse for 2 years