PENROSE, Colo. — The southern Colorado funeral home at the center of an improper storage investigation will be demolished on January 17, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Monday.
The agency's Emergency Response team will handle to demolition. Hazardous materials contractors will mobilize at the site on Jan. 17, and demolition will take roughly 10 days, weather permitting, according to the EPA.
Funeral home that allegedly housed 190 improperly stored bodies to be demolished
In early October, neighbors reported a foul odor near the Return to Nature funeral home in Penrose, located 33 miles south of Colorado Springs. Investigators entered the 2,500-square-foot building on Oct. 4 and made a "horrific" discovery.
Authorities initially said 115 bodies were allegedly improperly stored in the funeral home. In an update, Fremont County officials said at least 189 bodies were removed from the funeral home and transported to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
Following an assessment of the Return to Nature Funeral Home on Nov. 15, investigators determined that "demolition of the building is necessary to safely remove biological and hazardous materials found in the building."
The owner of the funeral home and his wife were arrested in Wagoner, Oklahoma, in early November. Jon and Carie Hallford face more than 250 felony charges, including 190 counts of abuse of a corpse and 50 counts of forgery.
Arrest papers horrify families impacted by Return to Nature funeral home
Before demolition begins, contractors will spray a disinfectant and odor suppressant inside the building.
Excavators will break up the building from the top down and remove large pieces. The EPA said contractors will work to keep the demolition within the foundation process.
Water and other liquid solutions will be used to suppress dust from the demolition, "but not in quantities that would cause runoff of contamination from the interior of the building to the ground surface outside," according to the agency.
Once the building and foundation are removed, contractors will scrape a layer of the soil away and transport it to a landfill.
The EPA is currently drafting its demolition plan. It plans to update local officials and stakeholders on the final plans in the coming weeks.