Skip to Content

Who are Jon and Carie Hallford, owners of Penrose funeral home ‘Return to Nature’


PENROSE, Colo. (KRDO) -- After a months-long investigation, KRDO13 Investigates is uncovering more details on how Jon and Carie Hallford, the owners of the Return to Nature Funeral Home in Penrose, found themselves in immense financial troubles.

The Hallfords are each facing over 250 criminal charges tied to allegedly improperly storing 189 bodies inside the funeral home. According to prosecutors, the bodies were stacked on top of one another in varying stages of decomposition.

Loved ones of those who used Return to Nature say the cremated remains were not their loved ones; instead, they were allegedly concrete mix.

Authorities say that the improper storage spans from 2019 to 2023 and that Jon showed concern about the situation in Penrose in texts to Carie.

Texts sent by Jon to Caire that were read in court said "I don't give a f*** about this family. I don't give a f*** about what's happening in Penrose. Are not going to prison and getting the f*** out of this community. My one and only focus is keeping us out of jail. What is yours?"

At multiple points during the alleged criminal enterprise, Jon texted his wife that he was having second thoughts about the bodies stacking up in his funeral home, most notably have he said he got "people juice" in his mouth.

"I'm ready to give up. It's getting in my mouth. Turned a new page for me about all of this and everything. I'm just no longer motivated to continue," Hallford texted Carie.

Jon Hallford is a multi-generational funeral home owner, whose ties to the industry stretch to time spent in Wagoner and Muskogee counties in Oklahoma. The earliest court records tying Jon Hallford to Colorado are from 2014 when he was pulled over in Gunnison County for driving over the speed limit.

The Hallfords opened Return to Nature in May 2016 as a new form of green burial, a more environmentally friendly way of burying lost loved ones. Over the years, the Hallfords opened multiple commercial locations in Colorado Springs, on E Platte Ave. and Elkton Dr. According to an Instagram post on the "Return to Nature" page, Hallford describes himself as a 3rd generation Funeral Home Director with 19 plus years of experience. The post says he graduated from Dallas Mortuary School.

The Instagram page shows the Hallfords decided to expand their business in 2019, opening their third property tied to the business in Penrose. According to court testimony from FBI Special Agent Andrew Cohen, the earliest date of death found inside the funeral home in Penrose was September 15, 2019, a short time after opening that location.

Kenneth Davidson, an attorney representing the property owners for Kenney & Company, who rented the space to the Hallfords, says they were living inside the building for some time.

Kenney & Company took the Hallfords to civil court in 2023 seeking an eviction from a judge after they alleged the rent payments they were owed were never paid. Davidson says the Hallfords fought the eviction by claiming Kenney & Company owed them "a million dollars," but an El Paso County Judge sided with Kenney & Company and evicted them from the property and ordered the Hallfords to pay the property owners $103,000.

This civil case is far from the only legal battle the Hallfords found themselves in over the last seven years. KRDO13 Investigates found they were forcibly evicted from two residential properties they were renting, one in 2019, and another while they were allegedly on the run in late 2023.

Colorado Springs property owner, Goivanni Long, tells KRDO13 Investigates that the Hallfords began renting her property in northeast Colorado Springs in August 2023. She received the first month's rent in September and then never heard from them again, despite being bound by an agreement to pay just over $2,000 a month in rent.

Long took the Hallfords to court and a judge ordered she could enter the property since she owned it and ordered the Hallfords to be evicted from the residence.

Long says, when she entered the property, it was as if a family was still living there. The majority of their belongings remained inside, including designer bags like several Louis Vuitton bags and watches valued at over $500.

In her last conversation with the Hallfords, Long says she was told a family member had dementia, which forced them to leave hastily due to the "family emergency." Long has since found a new tenant to occupy her rental home, but she says choosing the Hallfords as tenants has cost her thousands of dollars in recent months.

The Hallfords also faced a lawsuit from Wilbert Home Crematory for more than $20,000 in unpaid bills.

Both Jon and Carie have appeared in an El Paso County courtroom. Jon refused to answer questions from KRDO13 investigates and families pleading to know what happened to their loved ones.

"This is my son. What did you do with my son? What did you do with my son," questioned Heather DeWitt, who used Return to Nature to cremate her son, but he hasn't been identified to this day.

DeWitt was joined by other families demanding answers from Hallford earlier this month. Hallford was greeted by a gaggle of cameras and family members who walked him all throughout the El Paso County
Courthouse. Hallford the entire time didn't utter a word to KRDO13 Investigates or the victim's family members.

As he was departing his hearing, Hallford's attorney told KRDO13 Investigates we could not ask him questions because he is "represented," to which we responded that we were on a public sidewalk and were not violating the law by asking a man accused of over 250 criminal charges questions.

Jon and Carie Hallford have both been bound over for a trial on all of their charges. At their next court date, the pair will either plead guilty or not guilty. If a not-guilty plea is entered, a trial date will likely be set.

Even now that the court process, albeit lengthy at times, is now playing out, the families say they will not stop demanding answers from the Hallfords.

"Where's the rest of my son's body? The hundred pounds he lost during decomposition while he laid in your funeral home. Where is it, Jon?" a family member of a victim screamed at Jon Hallford.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Sean Rice

Sean is 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