Paying respects to the unknown in Castle Rock

Douglas County coroner leads effort to memorialize babies, man

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Three people, including two newborn infants, were laid to rest with dignity thanks to the efforts of Douglas County Coroner Jill Romann and the compassion shown by several businesses and organizations.

Romann said after a funeral home in Castle Rock closed, the coroner’s office was called in to manage the disposition of three unidentified bodies. Two of them, an adult male and an infant, had already been cremated. The third, a newborn baby boy, had not yet been cremated while the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office continues with a criminal investigation.

Romann said the details of the case cannot be disclosed as the investigation continues.

Foul play is not suspected in the other two cases. Romann said they are just unfortunate situations where no family members or friends could be located.

Romann said none of the cases are related, but all deserved better than to just be forgotten after attempts to reach next of kin failed.

After making some calls, Romann said, she became proud of what Douglas County can accomplish.

Romann said while the county has some basic services in instances where a person’s remains are unclaimed, she felt for these babies and this man, she could do better.

“I did not need to tap those county burial services because of all the support from Douglas County,” Romann said. “As I made calls, immediately the goodness of these people poured out like rainbows in the sky.”

Heflebower Funeral & Cremation Services donated cremation services for the infant in the possible criminal case once investigators released the body, Romann said.

Mike Heflebower, owner of the funeral home, said his Highlands Ranch company already provides free services for infant cases, and this one was no different even if there was no family.

“In all situations, whether adult or infant, we do not turn people away,” he said. “It’s just being a good human being and it is what should be done. When someone passes away, that body is somebody. They spent time on this earthly plain and should be given a dignified send-off.”

To provide a memorial service for the three people, Romann said she looked to Douglas County Communications Director Wendy Holmes for assistance. Holmes was able to connect Romann with the Faith Based Initiative, which includes a group of pastors from various churches.

Romann was connected to Pastor Doug Miller, of the Plum Creek Church in Castle Rock. Miller recruited several other pastors to provide comments for each of the deceased during a special memorial service.

Miller said his service goes beyond just the members of his Castle Rock church. His service is also to mentor and help in doing the right thing for the community.

“Everyone deserves a proper send-off,” Miller said. “I also believe in helping public servants who are serving in stressful roles. I want to help bring them closure as well. (Romann) is a compassionate person and did what she thought was right to pay last respects to these three people.”

Following the memorial service, Seven Stones Botanical Gardens Cemetery donated the final resting place for the cremated remains.

Donna Davis, of Seven Stone, said they were able to spread the cremated remains for the three people in an area of their botanical gardens overlooking the High Line Canal.

“We feel like everyone needs a final resting place,” Davis said. “These botanical gardens are truly fitting for two little babies and an adult gentleman.”

Davis said Seven Stones was glad to donate services to help in Romann’s efforts.

“(Romann) really put her heart into it and its beautiful to see a professional like that do what was right for fellow human beings,” Romann said. “Like us, she believes you treat others they way you want to be treated. This was a beautiful community effort to take care of people who did not have anyone around to take care of them.”

To mark the memorial sites, Steve Forsyth and his company is Rocky Mountain Stone Engraving, is in the process of creating markers for each person.

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