Skip to Content

Families grateful for free cremations of loved ones found inside the Penrose funeral home

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- When families paid Return to Nature Funeral Home to cremate their loved ones, they never thought they would have to go through the process again.

Life is often bookended by two dates, but families of loved ones found decomposing inside a defunct Penrose funeral home are adding a third date when their family member was properly laid to rest.

“Normally a person is put to rest within the first month that they pass away, not a year and two months later,” said Samantha Naranjo, whose grandmother, Dorthy, died in October 2022 and was one of the nearly 200 bodies found in the Penrose building.

Dorthy’s third date is December 1, 2023, when her family finally cremated her for real.

“It feels good,” Naranjo said. “It's a relief to finally have her home.”

She said a small funeral home allowed the family to witness the cremation. Each family member was able to touch the box Dorthy was in and pay their respects before watching her get cremated.

“This way it almost kind of solidified that she was taken care of finally,” said Naranjo. “It was like a reassurance that she was taken care of this time.”

Naranjo said the family was never charged for the service. Funeral homes across Southern Colorado are offering families, whose loved ones were found inside the Penrose funeral home, discounted or even free cremations. Naranjo said she is grateful for the support of the community.

“We were able to be taken care of with the utmost respect and dignity and it was done for free,” she said. “That, to me, is what community support is all about. That's what we need throughout this whole process.”

Tanya Wilson, whose mother was identified as one of the victims, also said how grateful she was for the support. She said deciding on who to use to cremate her mother the first time was difficult, and after what happened, the second decision was agonizing.

“It was terrifying to have to go through it again and to not know for sure,” she said. “Given everything that had happened and the way that our mother was treated, logistics of it was the last thing that we wanted to think about.”

The FBI provided a list of funeral homes to families offering free cremations. After diligent research, Wilson said her family picked Swan Law Funeral Home in Colorado Springs. She said the way they handled the process was much better than Return to Nature, and like Naranjo, the services were free.

“It was night and day,” Wilson said. “The lines of communication were open all the time. We were able to call whenever we had any questions and they answered. It kind of gave us a sense of community, that the community was coming together to try to give these families support.”

Wilson said she was grateful for the support but it also restored some faith in the funeral home industry.

“It might have been their way of showing to the community that not all funeral homes are like [Return to Nature] and there are some respectable businesses out there.”

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


KRDO NewsChannel 13 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content