SPECIAL REPORT-FBI scrutinizes funeral home with side business: selling body parts


By Brian Grow, Reuters

Thomson Reuters Foundation News - 11 January 2018


MONTROSE, Colorado, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation is interviewing former employees of a funeral home whose owner runs a side business on the same premises selling human body parts.


An agent with the FBI has interviewed at least four former employees who worked for funeral director and body broker Megan Hess, seeking information about how she operates her businesses, the former workers told Reuters.


The federal inquiry began several months ago, shortly after Reuters interviewed a half-dozen workers who formerly worked for Hess.


One ex-employee, Kari Escher, said she was especially troubled by the practices of Hess's mother, Shirley Koch, who works at the facility. Escher said Koch, who embalmed and dismembered bodies, pulled teeth from some of the corpses to extract the gold in crowns or fillings.


"She showed me her collection of gold teeth one day," said Escher, who helped manage a former cremation-marketing business owned by Hess.


Koch said "she had sold a different batch a year prior, and they took the whole family to Disneyland in California on the gold that they cashed in," Escher said.


Reached by phone at Sunset Mesa, Koch said she did not wish to talk with a Reuters reporter. "I'm not interested. Thank you," she said before ending the call.


The news agency had also sent written questions to Hess and her attorney about Koch's alleged handling of gold teeth. Neither addressed the issue about the teeth.


No federal law prohibits the buying and selling of human body parts to be used in research and education.


In Colorado and most other states, it also is legal for funeral homes to sell items recovered from dead bodies, such as gold dental work. And it is not against the law to operate a so-called body broker firm from the same facility that houses a funeral home and crematory...