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Ex-Funeral Home Owner Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Selling Body Parts

Megan Hess and her mother have been sentenced in Colorado after revelations of a gruesome scheme.


With corporate crime and fraud accusations dominating the headlines lately, it is hard to be shocked by the lengths some people will go to for greed.

RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Well, Megan Hess, a 46-year-old former funeral home owner from Colorado, found a way to stand out from the typical white-collar criminal. On Tuesday, she was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for dissecting 560 corpses and selling body parts without permission of the families of the deceased. Hess ran the Sunset Mesa funeral home and a body parts entity, Donor Services, from the same building.

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Hess pled guilty to fraud and received the maximum sentence allowed under the law. Her mother, 69-year-old Shirley Koch, was also involved in the gruesome scheme and was sentenced to 15 years. Reuters reports that Koch's main responsibility was cutting up the bodies for sale.

Former workers at Hess's businesses tipped off Reuters about the illegal dismemberment trade in 2018, and an FBI raid soon followed.

All of this begs the question: Who buys the body parts of dead people? The sale of internal organs is illegal in the United States — only donated organs can be used for transplant surgery to prevent the wealthy from having an unfair advantage. But you can sell body parts like legs, heads and spines for use in medical schools or research labs.

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Hess's crime was that she charged $1,000 for cremations that never happened, sold the body parts, and gave more than 200 families cremated ashes that were a hodgepodge of remains from different sources.

And there you have it, your feel-good story of the day. We're going back to bed.

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