Potential victims: District Attorney Heidi McCollum urges anyone with concerns about any interactions with the Kents or their six Colorado funeral homes to contact her offices in Lake County at (719) 486-4170 and Summit County at (970) 453-3514.
LEADVILLE, Colo. — Speaking publicly for the first time since charges were levied by the Lake County district attorney earlier this week, Lake County Sheriff Amy Reyes said she was relieved when she learned that Coroner Shannon Kent had tendered his resignation on April 30.
Reyes led the search of Kent’s Leadville funeral home.
Kent, 45, faces 14 new charges, including four counts of abuse of a corpse. He and his wife, Staci, are due in court on Monday in Breckenridge.
Denver7 obtained the body camera footage from two different searches on the Kents’ home in October 2020 and this past February where deputies described horrid smells and images, including that of an infant who was so badly decomposed that he could not be identified.
“We have to remember that these people belong to somebody. They mattered,” Reyes said. “And, you know, that little one, he mattered.”
District Attorney Heidi McCollum reviewed the video evidence against the Kents and elected to file the criminal charges. She told Denver7 Investigates that she does not know the motive of these alleged crimes, but believes her office can prove the Kents are guilty.
“My office believes crimes have been committed,” she said. “And we believe we can prove these crimes.”
Denver7 Investigates obtained a copy of Shannon Kent’s resignation letter from April 30 that he sent just hours before body camera footage of the searches on his home first aired.
In the letter, he said he felt he had been treated unfairly by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney. He believes he will be vindicated when his case goes to trial in September.
McCollum responded by saying: "We don't file criminal charges for personal vendettas."
Reyes said everyone needs to be held accountable, even elected officials.
“I think we need to remember that as law enforcement we are all sworn to take an oath and it doesn't matter who you are, what position you hold, we're all accountable to the laws,” she said.
Kent also states in the letter that he will remain in his post until Aug. 1 at the request of Lake County commissioners.
Requests to interview commissioners about their decision to ask the coroner to stay on were denied.
In an email, one commissioner said that they did not have any new information.
Attempts to contact the Kents and Shannon’s attorney have also been unsuccessful.
In the days following an attempt by Denver7 investigators to contact Kent at his home, a U-Haul truck was spotted backed up to their home. The county commissioners and the courts have cleared the way for him to leave the state, at least temporarily.
Monday’s court appearance will be held virtually.