Denver police seek help finding a former funeral home owner

Funeral Home Owner Cremains Found
David Zalubowski/AP
The residence where a former funeral home owner kept a deceased women’s body in a hearse for two years as well as the remains of 30 cremated people is shown Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, in southwest Denver. The discovery occurred on Feb. 6 during a court-ordered eviction of the home rented by 33-year-old Miles Harford.

Denver police are asking for the public’s help in finding a former funeral home owner who they say kept a woman’s body in a hearse for two years and kept the cremated remains of at least 30 people.

In announcing an arrest warrant last Friday, police said Miles Harford was cooperating with investigators. However, on Thursday they offered a $2,000 Crimestoppers award for information leading to his arrest because he hasn't turned himself in to authorities and they can't find him.

A warrant lists potential charges of abuse of a corpse, forgery of the death certificate and theft of the money paid for the woman's cremation. Other charges are possible as the investigation continues, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said last week.

The woman's body and the cremains were found Feb. 6 during a court-ordered eviction of a house rented by Harford, the 33-year-old owner of Apollo Funeral & Cremation Services in the Denver suburb of Littleton.

Harford appeared to have experienced financial trouble in his business and was at times not able to complete cremations to provide remains to families for services, Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Clark said during a Feb. 16 news conference. On occasion, Harford might have provided family members with another person's ashes instead of the ashes of their loved ones, Clark said.

Temporary urns — plastic boxes the size of a shoe box — were found in the crawl space of the house while a Denver sheriff’s deputy oversaw the removal of Harford’s belongings, Clark said. Some of the boxes were empty.

Other urns were found in a moving truck parked outside and still others were in the hearse where investigators found the woman’s body covered with blankets, Clark said. Harford said the woman died in August of 2022.

The recovered cremains appear to be associated with individuals who passed away between 2012 and 2021, Clark said.

A call to a phone number listed for Harford went straight to voicemail and the voicemail box hadn't been set up.

The case is the latest to underscore lax oversight of Colorado’s funeral industry.

A married couple is awaiting trial in Colorado Springs following their arrest last year for allegedly abandoning almost 200 bodies over several years inside a bug-infested facility and giving fake ashes to family members of the deceased. The operators of another funeral home in the western Colorado city of Montrose received federal prison sentences last year for mail fraud after they were accused of selling body parts and distributing fake ashes.

More than two dozen additional criminal cases and complaints involving Colorado funeral homes since 2007 were detailed in a January report to lawmakers from state regulators. The cases included bodies being mishandled, thefts of personal effects, improper embalming of bodies, mislabeled remains and remains never returned to families. The report concluded that additional regulation for the industry was “necessary to protect the public.”