It’s not everyday you hear about a funeral home selling body parts of the deceased for profit. However, these are no ordinary times. A family in Colorado that runs a funeral home has been making some exceptional side profit by selling the body parts of dead bodies they have stored in their home. If you thought this was legal – it actually just might be. The mother of the woman who owns the funeral home was the subject of an FBI investigation over the claims that she took the gold teeth off a dead body and sold them for profit.
Shirley Koch, the name of the lady in question, did not just do this once. She actually made enough profit from her dealings to take her family on a trip to Disneyland in California!
The Funeral, known as Sunset Mesa, is currently under investigation from the FBI for a total of nine claims.
The FBI is currently questioning former employees of the funeral home, as well as Megan Hess, a woman who runs a body broker and crematory in the same facility as Sunset Mesa. Clearly, something is going between the funeral home and Megan Hess, who often sells body parts for education and research.
Selling body parts for research and education is fully legal. It is also legal for a funeral home to reclaim items that have been recovered from cadavers. So what is the issue here?
One of the ex-employees being questioned by the FBI has some of the backstory for us.
Keri Escher told Reuters how disturbing it was to see Shirley Koch do what she was doing at the funeral home. Escher told the news outlet about the many times Shirley went in and stole teeth from dead bodies. She only took teeth that had a gold crown, as she would have this gold melted down and then convert it into American dollars.
“She showed me the collection of gold teeth one day,’ said Escher. ‘She had sold a different batch a year prior, and they took the whole family to Disneyland in California on the gold they cashed in.’
The issue at hand is that Hess runs all the different businesses located on the same premises. She owns the funeral home as well as a body broker and cremation company called Donor Services. Is it possible that she is selling body parts from Donor Services to her funeral home so that her family can profit on all the precious metals found on the dead bodies they collect? This is what the FBI is investigating, because if it were true then Hess would likely be breaking the conflict of interest law governing business operation procedures.
This is the attitude of Steve Palmer, a funeral director working in Arizona.
“The conflict of interest of having a side business in body parts just leads to problems,” he said. “There is 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.”
Let’s hope the FBI investigation clears some of this muddy business up.