COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - As nearly 200 families grapple with the Return to Nature funeral home's mishandling of their loved one's bodies, even more, are out thousands of dollars for services they prepaid for and won't receive down the road.
Anne McMullen considers herself very lucky after the investigation began into the Return to Nature funeral home on Oct. 4. Her husband, Erni, who is currently in hospice care, was slated to be cremated by Jon and Carie Hallford once he passed.
McMullen says she paid Jon and Carie Hallford just under $2,600 in July 2023, which pre-paid for her husband's cremation as well as her services in the future.
Following the discovery in October of 190 bodies in the Return to Nature's Penrose facility, the red flags she felt had risen along the way, were validated.
"When she took my credit card to pay, she used her phone to ring me up, and I thought that was odd," said McMullen.
"The urns were expensive but the place was cheap. It just seems very weird. I should have caught on." she added.
When she asked Carie for more information about how she and her husband, Jon Hallford, got into the business, Carie explained to McMullen, "Well, I married into a funeral home family, My husband's family has had a funeral home business since 1937 in Oklahoma. And I have family in Oklahoma."
After that, she says it quelled some of her suspicions, but ultimately once the news broke, she turned angry, thinking about the way they interacted.
"I sat there crying and going, 'Oh, thank you so much' and then this happens. You know, it's like the whole time she knew she was scamming me." said McMullen.
She says she filed a report with her credit card on Oct. 17.
"I said to them you don't understand they're gone, they took the money and they're gone," said McMullen to the company.
Now she has paid another $3,500 to a funeral home in Colorado Springs, to handle her and her husband's cremations.
"It's just unbelievable. I cannot believe we're going through this."
She explained, that after seeing the Hallfords arrest, she contacted investigators to share her information. She says they told her that they were not at the point of the financial aspects of the investigation, and remained focused on the identification of the bodies.