Us United Statesa funeral director has pleaded guilty to illegally selling deceased body parts to medical researchers and earning thousands of dollars doing so.
Megan Hess, 45, was part of a scam that, between 2010 and 2018, tricked grieving relatives into believing their loved ones had been cremated at Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose, Colorado, as reported by the Telegraph.
In reality, the ashes that people received did not belong to their families, as the bodies never went to the crematorium, according to the Daily Star tabloid.
The funeral director claimed that running the scheme, a non-profit service, allowed her to offer free cremations to low-income families and beat her competitors’ prices.
According to court documents, whole bodies were sometimes sold; in others, only limbs, such as legs, arms and torsos, or even heads.
The court heard that Hess allegedly faked donor bodies, demonstrated that they had consented to the procedure through false forms, and tampered with other documents, such as lab results.
Reports also revealed that she earned around $40,000 by extracting and selling the gold teeth of the deceased.
“I have exceeded the scope of consent and I am trying to make an effort to get it right,” Hess told the United States District Court in Grand Junction, Colorado.
She now faces up to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced in January. However, bereaved families say the director did not express enough remorse for her actions.
“I would like to hear Ms. Hess admit what she did rather than a jury finding her guilty,” said Debra Schum.
Danielle McCarthy, who had her husband’s remains submitted to the scheme, described the crime as “inconceivable”.
Despite this, they considered the confession agreement generous and accepted it because of their desire to move on.
* Intern at R7under the supervision of Fabíola Paschoal