SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The discovery of 189 bodies in a funeral home in Penrose, Colorado, may prompt the question: could that ever happen in South Dakota?
Based on South Dakota regulations, it seems unlikely.
The South Dakota Board of Funeral Service is in charge of overseeing inspections and licensing of funeral homes and crematoriums.
South Dakota law 36-19 covers funeral homes and crematoriums.
The board must conduct inspections once every three years as required by South Dakota Law.
One-third of all funeral homes and crematories are inspected once every three years. The funeral home and crematoriums are also inspected before the initial license is issued.
Before the Colorado Legislature changed the rules, inspections of funeral homes and crematoriums needed permission from the owner to inspect. That changed in 2022.
An October review by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, said “As of August 8, 2023, the Director had conducted nine inspections under this authority.”
The review said as of June, there were 218 funeral homes and 75 crematories registered with the state of Colorado. There was overlap in registrations because some funeral homes also operated crematoriums.
Based on the October review, Colorado has fewer inspectors and inspections completed than South Dakota. “In fiscal year 21-22, the Director spent $74,222, and allotted 0.25 full-time equivalent employees to the regulatory functions related to the Code,” the review said.
South Dakota has fewer funeral homes (93) and crematoriums (13) and two licensed funeral director board members are authorized to oversee inspections, according to the funeral service board. Again, two inspectors inspect one-third of all establishments each year, and they handle complaints.
Inspectors in South Dakota review various items in funeral homes and crematoriums. Here’s some of what they look for: General cleanliness of preparation room, Cleanliness and sterilization of instruments, including hypodermic needles and syringes and other areas.
The licensing requirement for funeral directors also differs between the two states.
Colorado does not require a license for the funeral director while South Dakota does.
South Dakota’s requirements include “at least ninety credit hours offered by an accredited institution of higher education and obtained a degree or a certificate from a mortuary science or funeral service program that is accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education,” according to state law. The law has other requirements.
Colorado and South Dakota do respond to complaints about funeral homes and crematoriums.
South Dakota law 36-1C outlines the process for response to complaints. The Colorado Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration also outlines the process for complaints.
In each state, violations of state and/or federal laws can results in disciplinary action.
Jon and Carrie Hallford were arrested in Wagoner, Oklahoma, on suspicion of four felonies — abuse of a corpse, theft, money laundering and forgery related to the discovery of the bodies in Colorado. The Hallfords owned the funeral home.