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Denver residents react to mishandlings from funeral home owner, push for legislative change

By By Gabriela Vidal

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    DENVER, Colorado (KCNC) — Residents in the Denver metro area are reacting to the heartbreaking discovery of a funeral home owner allegedly mishandling the remains of his client’s loved ones.

“It’s a heartbreaking thing,” said Gabrielle Oldfield. “And it’s sad because you know you want to believe that you can trust somebody when they are helping you through something that is a very difficult time and that’s a horrible thing to find out.”

Oldfield, who is an event coordinator at Three Trees Chapel says Miles Harford’s role in allegedly abusing a corpse, forgery and theft has been particularly frustrating for their location.

“I’ve taken several phone calls from people trying to get a hold of Miles,” she said.

Harford rented space in the Chapel’s Littleton address from time to time, according to Oldfield, but that was the extent of his affiliation to the location. The last time he rented out space for his services was in 2021.

“You know we work with many funeral homes where if a family needs something of a certain size and it’s too big for what the location might do on site, they just they use another location,” said Oldfield. “He currently owes the previous chapel owner money, and when she was not able to collect, he kind of just stopped responding to her in early 2022.”

Yet, the chapel continued to field calls from Harford’s clients over the years about funeral services they paid for but never got fulfilled.

“I had one woman who called,” said Oldfield. “She was nervous because she wasn’t able to get a hold of him and she goes, ‘now, I don’t even know if the cremains I have are the right ones.’ That was way before this story broke.”

It was after being evicted from a home he was renting in the 2500 block of South Quitman Street that the remains of a woman were discovered in a hearse, along with the cremated remains of at least 30 individuals.

“I was horrified by what I heard about the Apollo Funeral Home and just the fact that this was happening once again in our state in Denver, this time,” House District 54 Representative Matt Soper. “The fact that there was even a body out in the car that had been there for a couple of years, I mean, these are gut wrenching things that you don’t not want to ever hear again.”

Soper, a Republican, who has been working on a bipartisan effort in the legislature to improve oversight and accountability across the funeral home industry, says the legislature will launch a bill this coming week to continue the regulation of Colorado’s funeral homes as a business entity.

Following that, another crucial bill will be introduced to require licensure of all funeral home operators.

“If licensure was in place… I certainly suspect that the individuals [with Apollo] would not have been able to enter the industry and, certainly, they would have had random inspections. They would have had continuing education. They would have had families that would have had a mechanism to be able to make a complaint directly against them,” said Soper. “That currently doesn’t exist, but that will exist as soon as we get the law passed.”

Soper believes the legislature’s support for change will help Coloradans regain confidence in the funeral home industry.

“I hope families will know that their legislature is listening, that we have heard their cries for help, and we are doing something,” he said.

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