A Colorado funeral home is under federal investigation over accusations it doubled as a body broker firm, buying and selling human body parts, a Reuters special report revealed Tuesday.
The FBI started looking into Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors and Donor Services a few months after it was discovered that both businesses were being operated out of the same building and by the same owner, according to the report. It described a body broker as “a company that acquires dead bodies, dissects them and sells the parts for profit to medical researchers, training organizations and other buyers.”
While Sunset Mesa legally is permitted to own and operate both businesses, Reuters found that there was no other active instance where a funeral home, crematory and body broker had the same owner and were in the same facility.
Such a partnership may raise ethical concerns because it creates a financial incentive for the funeral home.
“The conflict of interest of having a side business in body parts just leads to problems,” Steve Palmer, a funeral director in Cottonwood, Ariz., and former member of the policy board at the National Funeral Directors Association, said. “There are 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.”
At the focal point of the FBI probe: funeral director Megan Hess, who did not return Fox News’ request for a comment.
The report also noted that a former employee at Sunset Mesa was troubled by Hess’ mother, who was responsible for embalming and dismembering the dead bodies.
The ex-employee said that she witnessed a collection of gold teeth that Hess’ mother allegedly extracted from the corpses’ fillings or crowns — and that the family “cashed in on” the gold to pay for a trip to Disneyland in California.
In Colorado and most other states, it's legal for funeral homes to sell items taken from corpses, including the gold found in teeth.
Other staff members also said that it was never disclosed to donor families that the corpses would be sold for profit — a potentially illegal practice.
Specifics of the scope of the FBI investigation are unclear. The Justice Department did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.