Woman’s corpse found at ex-funeral home owner’s rented home

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DENVER — Colorado authorities issued an arrest warrant Friday for a former funeral home owner they say kept a deceased woman’s body in a hearse for two years at a home where police also found the cremated remains of at least 30 people.

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The grisly discovery occurred Feb. 6 during a court-ordered eviction of a house rented by Miles Harford, the 33-year-old owner of Apollo Funeral and Cremation Services in the Denver suburb of Littleton, police said. It had been closed since September 2022.

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“Mr. Harford appears to have experienced financial trouble in his business. At times he was not able to complete cremations to provide remains to families for services,” Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark said Friday. He said on occasion, Harford might have provided family members with another person’s ashes instead of the ashes of their loved ones.

Miles Harford
Miles Harford is pictured in a LinkedIn photo. Photo by Miles Harford /LinkedIn

Temporary urns — plastic boxes the size of a shoe box — were found in the crawl space of the house while a Denver sheriff’s deputy oversaw the owner’s removal of Harford’s belongings, Clark said. Some of the boxes were empty.

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Other urns were found in a moving truck parked outside and still others were in a hearse, where investigators found the woman’s body covered with blankets, Clark said. Harford, who is not on the run and is cooperating with investigators, said she died in August of 2022.

The recovered cremains appear to be associated with individuals who passed away between 2012 and 2021, he said.

The discovery is the latest in a string of horrific cases in recent years involving mishandled bodies by funeral home operators in Colorado, which has some of the weakest oversight of the funeral industry in the nation. The state has no routine inspections of funeral homes or qualification requirements for operators.

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One married couple is awaiting trial in Colorado Springs following their arrest last year for allegedly abandoning almost 200 bodies over several years inside a bug-infested facility and giving fake ashes to family members of the deceased. The operators of another funeral home in the western Colorado city of Montrose received federal prison sentences last year for mail fraud after they were accused of selling body parts and distributing fake ashes.

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Harford is expected to be charged with abuse of a corpse, forgery of the death certificate and theft of the money paid for the cremation. Other charges are possible as the investigation continues, said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.

No voicemail was set up on a telephone number listed for Harford. He also did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Clark said Harford acknowledged to police that he owed money to several crematories in the area and none would cremate the 63-year-old woman’s body, so he decided to store her body in the hearse. Her family told investigators they were given what they believed were the woman’s ashes, which have been turned over to the Office of the Medical Examiner.

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The family is devastated, Clark said.

“They’re shocked. They were hurt by this,” he said. “They believed that they were processing their grief with the remains that they had and had had services with that. And then they come to find out that that was not the person that was processed, and in fact, she was being held in that hearse there.”

The other cremains found on the property appear to have been professionally cremated, officials said. Investigators are checking labels on the cremains and state databases and meeting with families.

“As you can imagine, these are extremely difficult conversations to have and the information comes as a shock to many of the families, several of whom believed they had the entire remains of their loved one,” Clark said.

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State licensing records show no discipline or board actions for Apollo Funeral and Cremation Services, which was licensed from March 2012 through May 2022.

In 2018, Harford and his company were sued by another funeral home company and ordered to pay about $27,000 for unspecified services the other home provided, according to court records. The same company, Kansas-based Wilbert Funeral Services, sued Harford and the company again in 2021, saying Harford owed nearly $9,000. That case is still pending.

Last year, a woman who said she was Harford’s former employer sought a court order to keep him away from her over alleged harassment. In her application, she said she had paid Harford to cremate two of her pets but he didn’t return them to her. There’s no indication in court records that the order was granted.

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