A creepy and irreverent case from the USA: There, a funeral home secretly dismantled hundreds of corpses and resold the body parts obtained in this way - all without the knowledge or consent of their customers. In a trial, those responsible have now been sentenced to high penalties.
For 46-year-old Megan Hess, the questionable extra income came in handy: she owned both a funeral home and a body parts business. Both companies were even located in the same building in a small town in Colorado. An easy way, then, to cash in twice with corpses.
Hess, along with her 69-year-old mother, Shirley Koch, was apparently highly targeted in their crimes, as prosecutor Tim Neff reports: "Hess and Koch at times used their funeral home to essentially steal bodies and body parts by using fraudulent and counterfeit donor forms used." Shirley Koch was responsible for dissecting the bodies.
Hess himself is said to have lied to her customers about cremation and resold body parts without their permission. After an unauthorized dissection, she sold arms, legs, heads and torsos to other companies. According to the public prosecutor's office, they also knew nothing about the origin of the body parts.
In court, 26 victims described their horror at the actions of Hess and Koch. So Erin Smith lamented: "Our sweet mother, they dismembered her." Hess sold her shoulders, knees and feet for profit. "We don't even have a name for such a heinous crime."
The cases were finally uncovered because former employees spoke to the Reuters news agency. After Reuters published the research, the FBI raided the companies in 2018. According to investigators, Hess billed up to $1,000 for cremations that never happened. In total, she is said to have lied to more than 200 families and mixed cremation ashes with the remains of other corpses.
According to Hess' lawyer, a "traumatic brain injury at the age of 18" is said to have caused the crimes. Hess is now serving 20 years in prison, and her mother, Shirley Koch, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.