MONTROSE, CO – Talk about grave consequences: the former owner of a Colorado funeral home entered a guilty plea on Tuesday to charges stemming from the sale of body parts of some of her deceased customers without permission, defrauding the families of the dearly departed in her care.
Megan Hess, the former owner of the Sunset Mesa funeral home in Western Colorado, had previously pleaded not guilty to accusations that she had harvested numerous body parts from cadavers – unbeknownst to their loved ones – that had been slated to be cremated as per the wishes of at least 12 families, including heads, spines, legs and arms.
According to court records, Hess would then sell the body parts as a part of her side business, Donor Services, mainly to medical schools.
Hess – who has been free on bond since she was indicted in March 2020, along with her mother, Shirley Koch – changed her plea this week to guilty, and is currently slated to be sentenced in January. Prosecutors are requesting that the former funeral director receive a sentence of at least 12 to 15 years behind bars.
Koch is also scheduled to change her plea to guilty on July 12, after previously maintaining her innocence.
Hess and her mother are alleged to have forged signatures and told falsehoods to numerous families to cover up their ghoulish misdeeds, which officials say took place between 2010 and 2018. Customers were changed approximately $1,000 each for cremations that never took place.
Instead, families would receive ashes left over from previous cremations, combined with left-over remains from random cadavers; in one instance, Hess was even so bold as to give a customer concrete mix instead of the ashes of their departed relative.
A former employee of Hess’ has also alleged that her former boss earned as much as $40,000 from pulling gold teeth from the jaws of bodies and selling them as well. Authorities also say Hess and her mother would lie on paperwork when shipping bodies that had infectious diseases.