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‘Legal but unethical’! Funeral home in Colorado sparks FBI probe after owner’s mother sold gold teeth she had ‘Harvested’ from corpses to finance family Disney trip

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Funeral home runs a side business selling human body parts – and made so much money selling dead people’s gold teeth that the owner’s mother took the whole family to Disneyland
The funeral home in Montrose, Colorado sparked an FBI probe after the owner’s mother, Shirley Koch, sold gold teeth she had ‘yanked’ from corpses
Koch made enough money from selling the gold that she took her family on a trip to Disneyland in California, a former employee at the funeral home said
The funeral home, Sunset Mesa, is also being investigated for nine complaints 
The FBI is interviewing ex-employees and the funeral home’s owner, Megan Hess
Hess runs a body broker company and crematory in the same facility as the funeral home. The broker business donates parts to research and education
Federal law does not prohibit the buying and selling of human body parts to be used in education and research
It’s also legal in most states for funeral homes to sell items recovered from cadavers
Megan Hess 3.pngSunset Mesa and the proprietor [in photo], is under investigation for nine complaints filed against it 

A Colorado funeral home that also sells human body parts has sparked an FBI probe after its owners were accused of removing gold teeth from dead bodies and selling them before using the money to go to Disneyland.
Keri Escher, an ex-employee of Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, told Reuters that she found what Shirley Koch was doing extremely troubling.
Koch works at the funeral home embalming and dismembering bodies. She’s the mother of Megan Hess, the owner.

Megan Hess 5.jpgMegan Hess, who owns the funeral home, is being questioned by the FBI about how she runs her businesses 

Hess operates a body broker business and crematory in the same facility as her funeral home

Escher, who helped manage a former cremation-marketing business run by Hess, said Koch would pull teeth from some of the corpses to extract the gold in crowns or fillings and then sell what she collected.
‘She showed me her collection of gold teeth one day,’ Escher told the outlet. ‘She had sold a different batch a year prior, and they took the whole family to Disneyland in California on the gold that they cashed in.’
Following Escher’s claims, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began interviewing former employees.

Shirley Koch [right], and her husband, Alan Koch.png
Hess employs her parents Alan Koch and Shirley Alan Koch at the business. Shirley Koch’s task at the funeral home allegedly is embalming and dismembering bodies. She’s the mother of Megan Hess, the owner. A whistle-blower described her activities as ‘
extremely troubling’  

At least four ex-workers and Hess have been questioned about how she runs Sunset Mesa and the other businesses she operates in the same location of the funeral home.
Hess, who opened Sunset Mesa in 2006, is also the owner of Donor Services, a body broker operation, and has a crematory. Both are run from the same building as the funeral home, sparking questions of whether the practice is ethical.
Some former staff members at the funeral home told Reuters that they never heard Hess tell families that the donated cadavers would be sold for profit.
‘The conflict of interest of having a side business in body parts just leads to problems,’ said Arizona funeral director Steve Palmer.
‘There are no ethics there when you do that. You are not looking at the full disposition (of a body). You are looking at how to make money.’
Robert Fells, general counsel of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, said the multifaceted business is ‘a new frontier’ but noted that family members of donors need to be made aware.

Megan Hess 2.pngMegan Hess who opened the funeral home in 2006, has been accused of unethical business practices
‘The fact that now the business is also making money from the sale of body parts – if that is not being told to the family, it is unethical and probably illegal, if only as deception,’ he told Reuters.
Federal law does not prohibit the buying and selling of human body parts to be used in education and research. It’s also legal in most states including Colorado for funeral homes to sell items recovered from Cadavers, such as gold dental work.
It’s not a crime to run a body broker business from the same facility that houses a funeral home and crematory, either.
But for all practical purposes, such multipurpose operations indeed raise ethical concerns, several funeral industry veterans observed.

In addition to the FBI probe, Hess is being investigated about complaints filed against Sunset Mesa.

Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies told Reuters that it has nine open complaints about the business, which is ‘higher than average’.
In a 2016 interview with Reuters, Hess described her body broker company as a Donor Services – ‘a small, family business’.
She took orders for body parts via Hotmail, email records show. Then she and her mother, Shirley Koch, handled about 10 cadavers a month in the back room. Her father, Alan Koch, ran the crematory, Hess said.
Reuters reports that Hess made donating a body online easy.
On her cremation marketing website, a donor could simply select from a drop-down menu, fill out a few forms, click “Add to Cart,” and enter a credit card number. Her funeral home site listed her credentials, including a PhD in mortuary science.
After a reporter asked questions about the website and her background, Hess removed the “Add to Cart” donation pages from her cremation website and cut the mention of the mortuary science doctorate from her online biography. No such degree exists in the United States for morticians, veteran funeral directors say.
Her revised online biography cited her high school degree and “a love of veterinary medicine,” Reuters reported.

 

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