A 46-year-old funeral home owner has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after it was discovered that she was selling body parts.
Megan Hess, the owner of the Sunset Mesa Funeral Homes in Montrose, was profiting illegally by selling body parts – sometimes whole bodies – to unknowing medical training companies, BBC reported.
She charged mourning families $1,000 for cremations that wouldn’t even happen.
According to reports, she dissected 560 bodies between 2010 and 2018 with the help of her mother Shirley Koch, 69.
In July, Hess pleaded guilty to fraud and received maximum term of 20 years in prison. Her mother was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
Many grieving families testified against the duo in court.
Erin Smith said: “Our sweet mother, they dismembered her. We don’t even have a name for a crime this heinous.”
Prosecutors said that Hess lied to the grieving families who entrusted the bodies of their loved ones with her but didn’t receive their ashes. They reportedly received ashes from different bodies.
“Hess and Koch used their funeral home at times to essentially steal bodies and body parts using fraudulent and forged donor forms,” said prosecutor Tim Neff in a court filing.
“Hess and Koch’s conduct caused immense emotional pain for the families and next of kin.”
US district judge Christine M. Arguello described the case as ‘the most emotionally draining’ one she’d ever experienced.
“It’s concerning to the court that defendant Hess refuses to assume any responsibility for her conduct.”
The judge ordered Hess and her mother be sent to prison immediately.
Hess’ lawyer said that she has been unfairly vilified as a ‘monster,’ a ‘witch’ and a ‘ghoul’ when she was actually a ‘broken human being’ whose actions can be attributed to a traumatic brain injury she suffered at the age of 18.
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