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Montrose women accused of selling body parts sentenced to prison after accepting plea deals, lessening charges


MONTROSE, Colo. (KRDO) -- A federal judge in Grand Junction sentenced the mother-daughter duo out of Montrose who pled guilty in 2022 in a body sales case.

According to a grand jury indictment, Megan Hess and her mother Shirley Koch offered to cremate bodies and provide the remains to families for $1,000 or more between 2010 and 2018 through the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home.

Hess and Koch were arrested in 2020 and charged with six counts of mail fraud and three counts of illegal transportation of hazardous materials.

However, many of the cremations never occurred. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Hess and Koch transferred bodies or body parts to third parties for research without families' knowledge.

Hess and Koch originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. In July 2022, Hess and Koch both entered plea agreements. They both pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and aiding and abetting. In doing so, the other charges were dropped.

KRDO spoke with a Colorado Springs woman who said her deceased husband was a victim in the case. Danielle McCarthy said she got a call from the FBI saying the funeral home where her husband was had dismembered his body and sold the parts.

"There are no words to describe," said McCarthy to KRDO in July 2022. "That was my husband of 25 years. Finding out what had happened, that he had been dismembered and sold as multiple body parts... There are no words to describe what that feels like.”

She told KRDO she thought the plea was "generous" and not what anyone victimized by the pair would've wanted. However, she said she didn't think there was justice to be found.

"You can't undo what's been done to families," said McCarthy.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a federal judge sentenced Hess to 20 years in prison and Koch to 15 years in prison.

The FBI released the following statement on the matter:

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