Police: Body left in coffin at former Silverthorne funeral home for months

Lake County coroner, deputy coroner arrested on felony charges

Shannon, left, and Staci Kent of Leadville were arrested Friday and charged with attempted tampering with a deceased human body, a Class 4 felony.
Photos from Silverthorne Police Department

Lake County Coroner Shannon Kent and his wife, Deputy Coroner Staci Kent, were arrested Friday and charged with attempted tampering with a deceased human body, a Class 4 felony, according to a news release from the 5th Judicial District attorney’s office.

The charges stem from an incident at the former Kent-Bailey Funeral Home, 561 Blue River Parkway in Silverthorne, where police found a body in a coffin that they believe had been there for several months, according to the release.

The body was identified through fingerprinting as a 42-year-old Southern California man who died July 30 in a semitrailer crash in Park County, according to Park County Coroner David E. Kintz Jr. The body was transferred from the Coroner’s Office to the now-defunct funeral home on Aug. 11, according to Kintz. After the man’s body was found unattended, it was returned to the coroner Tuesday, and his family was notified.

Shannon Kent also was charged with violation of his bail bond conditions, a Class 6 felony, related to a previous arrest Dec. 6, 2019, in Lake County, where he was charged with official misconduct and perjury after he was indicted by a grand jury in September 2019 for having his wife serve as deputy coroner without being legally sworn in, according to the release.

The Kent-Bailey chain of funeral homes also got into trouble last year, when its operating license was suspended for locations in Leadville and Gypsum on Oct. 13. The locations were shut down following a complaint about the cremains of a stillborn child and an investigation that found unsanitary conditions at the Leadville location.

According to a state report, a client of the Leadville operation contacted the funeral home to arrange for the cremation of a stillborn child in December 2019. The client said the cremains were provided only after several calls were placed with the Leadville business. The report states that the cremains presented to the client were not labeled and did not include accompanying paperwork, which the client requested.

“(The client) noted the cremains returned to her exceeded the expected weight for a stillborn child and subsequently submitted the cremains that were provided to her for forensic analysis,” the state’s suspension order states.

The analysis determined that the cremains included bone fragments from multiple people, including the infant and an older adult. The Kents are facing a civil lawsuit related to that incident.

On Oct. 2, deputies with the Lake and Eagle County sheriff’s offices executed a search warrant at the Leadville location, where they found human biological waste, used and uncleaned medical and surgery equipment, unrefrigerated human remains and refrigerated remains that did not have identification tags or accompanying paperwork.

Shannon Kent, who was elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018, voluntarily signed an agreement with state regulators in December that required him to permanently exit the funeral home and cremation businesses in Colorado, revoking his license for his chain of funeral homes including locations in Buena Vista, Fairplay and Idaho Springs in addition to the Silverthorne, Leadville and Gypsum sites.

In relation to Friday’s arrests, bond for the Kents was set at $10,000 each, and they are scheduled to appear in court March 9. The Silverthorne Police Department is continuing to investigate.

The Vail Daily contributed to this report.

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