DALLAS -- A Dallas family says they learned their mother's ashes may not truly be hers, following an investigation into the sale of body parts in Colorado.
Kayla Lyons lost her mother Doris in February 2017 and made sure she had a loving goodbye. Doris' ashes are buried at the family plot in Oklahoma.
"There was always that comfort knowing that she was there," said Lyons.
At least, that's what she believed for the past 14 months.
"Now to find out that I can't go and talk to my mom, because it's probably not even her!" Lyons said.
Doris lived in Dallas and died after complications following a fall on a trip to Colorado. Her family arranged her cremation with a funeral home outside Durango.
"He said, 'Don't worry, we'll take really good care of your mom. She's in great hands,'" said Lyons. "'We'll be really gentle with her.'"
Lyons believed they were, until her phone rang last Thursday.
"He identified himself as an agent of the FBI in Grand Junction [CO], and he asked if I had signed any type of paperwork authorizing her body to be donated, and I said 'Absolutely not.'" said Lyons. "That's when he told me 'I regret to inform you we have receipts showing where your mom's body parts have been sold.'"
Lyons says she learned her mother was cremated at a different facility, Sunset Mesa Funeral Directors, in the town of Montrose, several hours north of Durango.
The Montrose Daily Press reports the business was owned by Megan Hess. Hess also ran a legal business selling body parts for medical research called Donor Services, Inc. in the same building. Last year, employees told Reuters News Hess would not always tell people their loved one's bodies would be sold for profit.
The FBI began an investigation and raided the building on Feb. 6. The state of Colorado suspended Sunset Mesa's licenses as a funeral home and crematorium Feb. 12. That brings us to Thursday, when Lyons learned her mother may not be where she thinks.
"I don't know if she's got a leg there, an arm there, a torso, you know...I don't know what happened to her," she said.
Body donation is an unregulated industry. Lyons hopes by sharing her story, that changes. She is calling for more oversight and legislation on a business that has largely operated in the shadows. Lyons hope in speaking out is that no other daughter has to wonder who or what is in her mother's grave.
"I want no one ever to have to do that," said Lyons. "No one needs that phone call."
WFAA reached out to the attorney representing Hess for comment but did not get a response. The FBI in Denver says its investigation is ongoing, and it continues to solicit information from people who believe their loved ones may be involved here.