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150 bodies identified from Penrose funeral home by El Paso County Coroner

EL PASO, Colo. (KRDO) - The El Paso County Coroner has identified 150 out of 189 bodies that were found improperly stored at the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose.

El Paso County Coroner, Dr. Leon Kelly, confirmed to KRDO13 investigates that his office has scientifically identified 150 bodies but, still has about 40 bodies that they're still working to identify, a process that could take "likely several months or more".

"The last ten days have been incredibly challenging, probably the most challenging stretch for this office, certainly since I've been here." explained Kelly.

He added that some of the bodies recovered have been dead for "several years", and Kelly says they need the information from those families to identify the remains.

He stressed that anyone who used Return to Nature in the past few years should fill out the FBI's online form.

Fremont County led the recovery of the remains on site. Once the bodies were in El Paso County, Kelly says it was a combination effort of El Paso County, the FBI evidence recovery team, state and local Office of Emergency Management, El Paso County Facilities and Maintenance, and volunteers from several area coroner’s offices who helped assist with the transport of bodies on site as well as a Forensic Dentist.

"I can say that we are exhausting every, in existence, scientific and investigative ability that we have to identify every single one of these people. But it is challenging work -- I'm very satisfied with where we are, the progress we've made to this point." said Kelly.

All of the remains are still with Kelly's office and will begin to be released once the families are notified in person if possible by Fremont County. 

One woman spoke to KRDO 13 Investigates about learning her mother was among the first round of bodies that were identified -- you can hear their story here.

Families who have not already done so are asked to go here to complete the questionnaire to assist in this process.

If you believe you or your loved one might have been impacted and you have further questions, please send an email to This is the most effective way to connect with resources; a person will respond to all emails from family members.

If you do not have access to email, Fremont County continues to operate a telephone hotline for families at 719-276-7421.

Do you have a tip you want KRDO13 investigates to look into? Email us at

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Emily Arseneau

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