(RightIsRight.co) – A funeral home owner in Colorado was sent to prison for 20 years after she was found to have dismembered corpses and sold body parts.
46-year-old Megan Hess was convicted of selling body parts without permission and committing fraud.
“This is the most emotionally draining case I have ever experienced on the bench,” US District Judge Christine M. Arguello said, as cited by Fox News.
“It’s concerning to the court that defendant Hess refuses to assume any responsibility for her conduct,” the judge added during Hess’s sentencing hearing in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Tuesday.
In July, Hess, who owned the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home together with her mother, 69-year-old Shirley Koch, pleaded guilty to fraud.
The former funeral home owner’s crimes were uncovered after a 2018 investigation by Reuters into the sale of body parts in America.
The investigation interviewed former workers at Hess’s firm who said bodies slated for cremation were dismembered and their parts were sold while the grieving families still got back cremation ashes.
Hess’s mother expressed regret and assumed responsibility for her actions. However, she also received 20 years in prison, the maximum penalty under the law.
“Hess and Koch used their funeral home at times to essentially steal bodies and body parts using fraudulent and forged donor forms,” prosecutor Tim Neff said in a court filing.
“Hess and Koch’s conduct caused immense emotional pain for the families and next of kin,” Niff added.
Hess sold body parts to companies specializing in medical training and “other firms.”
At the same time, families paid $1,000 for cremations that were never performed. She then gave them ashes “from a mixed bid of different corpses.”
Hess also approached other customers with offers for free cremations in exchange for a body donation.
US law bans the sale of human organs, which can only be donated. However, the sale of body parts – including limbs, spines, and heads – for education or research is not regulated.
According to the prosecution, at least 200 families were affected by the criminal scheme and were “horrified” to find out the truth.
“Our sweet mother, they dismembered her. We don’t even have a name for a crime this heinous,” said Erin Smith, a victim.
While Hess’s lawyer maintained his client had been vilified “unfairly as a “monster,” “witch,” or “ghoul,” prosecutors said the trial was one of the biggest body parts cases in American history.
Hess and her mother were sent to prison immediately.
Funeral home owner who dismembered corpses, sold body parts sentenced to 20 years in prison https://t.co/5tjSmYVfk4
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 4, 2023