More cremated remains withheld from families found at funeral home owner’s house, prosecutors say

Miles Harford appears in court to hear the charges against him on Friday, March 8, 2024, in Denver. Harford, a former funeral home owner accused of keeping a woman's corpse in the back of a hearse for two years and hoarding the cremated remains of 35 people, has been charged with forgery, theft and abuse of a corpse. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert, Pool)

Miles Harford appears in court to hear the charges against him on Friday, March 8, 2024, in Denver. Harford, a former funeral home owner accused of keeping a woman’s corpse in the back of a hearse for two years and hoarding the cremated remains of 35 people, has been charged with forgery, theft and abuse of a corpse. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert, Pool)

DENVER (AP) — The owner of a funeral home who is accused of keeping a woman’s corpse in the back of a hearse for over a year, along with stashing over 30 cremated remains, attended a court hearing Friday where prosecutors say even more ashes have been discovered at his residence.

Miles Harford, 33, stood quietly in court as the judge read out the charges against him, including forgery, abuse of a corpse and theft. Prosecutors at the hearing said many more charges, similar to the current counts, may be coming after the latest discovery.

“The amount of harm that this man has caused that’s radiated throughout our communities is far more substantial,” said Jake Friedberg of the Denver District Attorney’s office, at the hearing, who added that no additional bodies were found.

Harford’s case is the latest in a series of Colorado funeral home cases over the last decade, including a business illegally selling body parts and another leaving nearly 200 bodies to rot and allegedly sending families fake ashes.

The cases have shaken hundreds of Colorado families, leaving most to wonder if the cremated remains they received were actually their loved ones’, and many to learn that the ashes they spread, or clutched for years, weren’t. The discoveries have shattered the grieving process, with some having nightmares of their family members’ bodies decomposing.

With Colorado having the laxest funeral home regulations in the country — with no qualification requirements to own a funeral home and no routine inspections of facilities — the discoveries have prompted legislative proposals to overhaul the whole system.

The discovery at Harford’s home was made during an eviction, when the body of Christina Rosales, who died of Alzheimer’s at age 63, was found covered in blankets in the back of a hearse. The 35 cremated remains were found stashed throughout the property, from inside the hearse to the crawlspace.

While prosecutors said more ashes were found over the last few weeks, they declined to elaborate on the number of cremated remains, or where they were found.

“We do have sets of cremains that should have been with their loved ones,” said Friedberg, who added that a number of people who are still alive, but had already paid Harford for future funeral arrangements, had contacted investigators.

Given the recent discoveries, prosecutors asked for a more severe bond, which was not granted by Judge Arnie Beckman in the Denver County Court, given that the potential future charges hadn’t yet been filed.

Still, “some information the court received I have concerns about,” said Beckman, who then upgraded Harford’s supervision to include a GPS tracker.

Harford does not yet have an attorney to comment on his behalf. Phone calls to numbers listed as Harford’s in public records were not answered, and a voicemail couldn’t be left. Multiple attempts to reach Harford by email have gone unanswered.

The latest proposals in the Colorado legislature would require funeral home directors to get a degree in mortuary science and pass a national exam. Another bill would require routine inspections of funeral homes from the state agency that oversees the industry.

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Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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