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Family victimized by funeral home crime buries loved one after years-long delay

The people who ran the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home stole and sold the body of David McCarthy. The FBI recovered his remains, but not most of the 800 other victims.

DENVER — Danielle McCarthy has finally kept her promise. 

When her husband David died six years ago, she said she'd inter the Army vet in Denver's Fort Logan National Cemetery. Instead she worried she'd lost his body forever. 

"The funeral home I used to cremate my husband did not," she explained. "They dismembered and sold his body parts without me knowing."

The federal government said the Sunset Mesa Funeral Home in Montrose stole and sold the bodies of at least 800 victims. The FBI was not able to track down most of them, but they found David. 

"I don't know what made us special to get him back," McCarthy said through tears. 

For years, his remains were stored as evidence in the criminal case against the funeral home operators. This spring, McCarthy finally got him back home. On the day before Veterans Day — her late husband's birthday — she said goodbye to him at a traditional funeral at Fort Logan with full military honors. 

"I’m hoping that this just brings some peace to my family," she said. "I don’t think that there’s honestly ever going to be closure from this. I think there’s healing to be found, my biggest hope is just peace." 

Now she's turning her pain into purpose and raising awareness in hopes of convincing lawmakers to increase regulations against funeral homes. 

"Watching and listening to legislators who say 'Well we don't want to disrupt the funeral industry.' How much more disruption do you need? It's already disrupted. It's already told us its dysfunction. It has shown us in grandiose ways. How many more lives need to take this toll?" she asked. 

She wants Colorado to join every other state in the country and regulate funeral home workers. A state agency will submit its recommendation to lawmakers next month. Colorado's funeral home industry group said it's not taking a position on the issue. 

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