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One of the owners of the Return to Nature Funeral in court Thursday

Return to Nature Funeral Home
Posted at 9:53 AM, Jan 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-11 11:53:39-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — One of the owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home, where 190 bodies were found improperly stored, will be in court Thursday.

Carie Hallford will be in court in Colorado Springs at 1:30 p.m. It's a preliminary hearing where a judge will decide if there is enough evidence to send this case to trial.

The bodies were found at the Penrose funeral home back in October. Carie and her husband Jon are accused of abusing corpses, stealing, laundering money and forging documents.

Bodies were stacked up on top of each other and some were not even in body bags, according to an arrest affidavit. Jon had a preliminary hearing last week. A judge reduced his bond from $2 million to $100,000.

Judge William Moller said that was because he didn't think Hallford was a threat to the public, he doesn't have a criminal history, and the $100,000 bond is still ten times the amount suggested by court guidelines.

It was an unexpected ruling for many family members of the alleged victims inside the courtroom.

Even though Jon’s bond was reduced, he remains in jail. The district attorney's office said the judge may discuss Carie’s bond during Thursday's hearing.

An investigation into the funeral home began in early October after reports of a horrific odor coming from the building.

Investigators said they found more than 150 bodies in various states of decomposition inside the building.

In what was a multi-agency clean-up effort, coroner offices and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation worked tirelessly for a couple of weeks to remove the bodies from the building before the identification process could begin.

Jon and Carie Hallford were arrested in Oklahoma in November.

The two were then moved to El Paso County where both appeared in court and had cash bonds originally set at $2 million. The Hallfords are facing hundreds of criminal charges for abuse of a corpse, fraud, and money laundering.

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