Corpse and 30 Cremated Remains Found at Ex-Funeral Director’s Home

The corpse of a woman and the cremated remains of at least 30 other people were found at the home of a former funeral director in Colorado, prompting the Denver Police Department to issue an arrest warrant for the man on Friday.

The former funeral director, Miles Harford, 33, will most likely face charges of abuse of a corpse, forgery of a public document, and theft, Beth McCann, the Denver district attorney, said during a news conference on Friday.

The Denver police said they had contacted the family of the woman, who was 63 when she died in August 2022.

“They’re devastated, they’re shocked, they were hurt by this,” Cmdr. Matt Clark, who oversees the Police Department’s major crimes division, said at the news conference.

The cremated remains were discovered on Feb. 6 by the owners of the home where Mr. Harford had been a tenant. The owners were cleaning out the house after serving Mr. Harford with an eviction notice when they found boxes of cremated remains. They reported the discovery to deputies from the Denver Sheriff Department who were there for the eviction.

Investigators with the Police Department and the medical examiner’s office then found the woman’s body, which had been covered with a blanket in an inoperable hearse in the backyard. Officials said the woman had most likely been there since her death.

The finding was particularly difficult for the woman’s family because her relatives had received cremated remains that they believed were hers.

“They believed that they were processing their grief with the remains that they had, and had had services with that,” Commander Clark said.

Mr. Harford, who had operated Apollo Funeral and Cremation Services in Littleton, Colo., between 2012 and 2022, experienced financial difficulties, officials said. He owed money to several crematories, which prompted them to stop working with him. As a result, he was unable to complete the cremation of the woman, officials said.

The police have yet to arrest Mr. Harford, but officials said they had been in touch with him both before and after the arrest warrant was issued.

“He does acknowledge that he could not find a crematory to process the woman’s body, and then he felt that at that point, he just stored it in that hearse and then provided remains to the family so they could have their services,” Commander Clark said.

Efforts to reach Mr. Harford on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Officials believe the cremated remains belong to people who died between 2012 and 2021. Mr. Harford’s business performed cremations for people who were indigent and people whose next of kin was not known.

Officials were working to return to families the cremated remains that were labeled, but they noted that they would not conduct DNA tests because the “extreme temperatures involved in the cremation process alter the molecular structure of DNA, often rendering it fragmented and highly degraded,” Commander Clark said.

“It’s a very resource-intensive process with a very low likelihood of success,” he said. “We don’t have the ability at this point to undertake that.”

Officials said this case was not connected to a case in Fremont County in Colorado in which investigators found at least 115 decaying bodies at a funeral home that had promised “green” burials.

“However, this situation does raise the possibility that this kind of thing is happening in other parts of the state,” Ms. McCann said.

Jack Begg contributed research.

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