The focus and extent of the federal probe into the Hess operation is unclear, and the FBI also declined to comment.
Separate from the FBI inquiry, Reuters has learned that Colorado state funeral regulators are investigating Hess’s funeral home, Sunset Mesa. The state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies said it has nine open complaints about Sunset Mesa – “higher than average” for funeral homes in the state, said spokesman Lee Rasizer. He would not discuss the nature of those complaints or any action it may be taking.
Reuters began examining the Hess companies more than a year ago as part of the news agency’s exploration of the human body trade, a virtually unregulated industry that largely operates in the shadows.
Before referring questions to a lawyer, Hess spoke extensively with Reuters about her body broker company. In an interview in 2016, she described Donor Services as a small, family business. She took orders for body parts via Hotmail, email records show. She said she and her mother, Koch, handled about 10 cadavers a month in the back room. Her father, Alan Koch, ran the crematory, Hess said.
Hess made donating a body online easy. On her cremation marketing website, a donor could simply select from a drop-down menu, fill out a few forms, click “Add to Cart,” and enter a credit card number. Her funeral home site listed her credentials, including a PhD in mortuary science.