Utah author charged in husband’s death had tried to poison him before, court records allege

The husband’s family told police that “if anything happened to him, she was to blame,” documents state.

(KPCW.org via AP) This photo provided by KPCW.org shows Kouri Richins at the KPCW studio in Park City, Utah, on April 12, 2023. Richins was arrested on Monday, May 8, and is accused in charging documents of poisoning her husband with a lethal dose of fentanyl at their home in Kamas, near Park City.

The late husband of a Summit County murder suspect believed his wife had tried to poison him multiple times before his death, court documents allege.

Kouri Richins, a mother of three who wrote a book meant to help children cope with grief after her husband Eric Richins’ 2022 death, was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with one count of aggravated murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in connection with his apparent killing.

“While investigating the death, I was told by Eric’s family members that they suspected his wife had something to do with his death,” deputy Jayme Woody wrote in an affidavit for a search warrant. “They advised he warned them that if anything happened to him, she was to blame.”

The suspected poisonings started years ago, on a trip to Greece, the affidavit states. At some point, Kouri Richins gave Eric a drink and he became “violently ill.” Afterward, Eric called his sister and said he believed Kouri had tried to kill him, according to the affidavit.

On Valentine’s Day 2022, Kouri Richins brought her husband a sandwich, “which, after one bite, Eric broke into hives and couldn’t breathe,” the affidavit states. Eric used his son’s EpiPen and Benadryl “before passing out for several hours.” After he woke up, he told a business partner what happened.

According to a probable cause statement, Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies and first responders came to the Richins’ home around 3 a.m. on March 4, 2022, and found Eric on the floor at the foot of his bed. They attempted life-saving measures but he was pronounced dead.

During interviews with Kouri Richins, the 33-year-old told investigators that around 9 p.m. the night prior, they had been celebrating her closing on a house for her business, the document states. She made her husband a Moscow mule, which he drank in bed. Kouri went to sleep shortly after, she told police, and awoke around 3 a.m. to find Eric cold to the touch.

“The day after Eric’s death, Kouri closed on the home, alone,” the affidavit states. “She later invited her friends over for a large party at her home where she was drinking and celebrating.”

An autopsy and toxicology findings determined that Eric died from a fentanyl overdose, and that he had five times the lethal dosage in his system. The medical examiner also stated that the fentanyl in his system was illicit fentanyl and not medical-grade fentanyl.

During a search warrant, Kouri Richins’ phone and several computers were seized as evidence. Investigators found texts on her phone with someone identified as “C.L.”, whom she asked if she could get some prescription pain medication from for an investor. A few days later, C.L. procured hydrocodone pills, which Kouri told C.L. to leave at a house she was flipping in Midway. Kouri owned the house from December 2021 to January 2022.

A couple of weeks later, Kouri Richins contacted C.L. again and asked for “some of the Michael Jackson stuff,” specifically fentanyl.

About two weeks later, on Feb. 26, 2022, Kouri again contacted C.L. to ask for more fentanyl. Six days later, Eric was dead.

Before he died, Eric Richins had changed his will and life insurance beneficiary from Kouri Richins to his sister. “He was looking for a divorce and wanted his kids taken care of,” the search warrant affidavit states.

According to the family, Eric had never told his wife that he had “cut her out of the will,” the document states.

Kouri Richins has an active real estate sales agent license, according to the Utah Department of Commerce’s real estate division. The company associated with her license is listed as Conrad Cruz Real Estate Services. On Wednesday afternoon, the company declined comment.

The children’s book Kouri Richins wrote about grief, called “Are You with Me?”, published in March. As of Wednesday, the book had been removed from Amazon’s website.

The book’s description calls it a “heartwarming and reassuring book that gently guides children through the difficult experience of losing a loved one,” according to Google Books.

“Written by a loving mother who personally faced this challenge,” the description continues, “this book is designed to offer comfort and solace to young minds in a way that is both accessible and engaging.”

In April, Richins appeared in a segment on KTVX-Channel 4′s “Good Things Utah” to discuss the new book, during which she shared that her husband “passed away unexpectedly last year.”

She noted that March 4 marked the one-year anniversary of his death, adding that “it completely took us all by shock.”

“My kids and I kind of wrote this book on the different emotions and grieving processes that we’ve experienced last year ... hoping that it can kind of help other kids, you know, deal with this,” she said, “and kind of, you know, find happiness, some way or another.”

On Tuesday evening, an editor’s note was added to the interview’s Web page that states Richins appeared on the show “one month before she was arrested in connection with her husband’s murder.”

“At the time of the airing, Good Things Utah and ABC4 had no way to be aware that she was a suspect in that murder,” the editor’s note states. “We are leaving this post up as part of our policy of being transparent. We have, however, removed links to purchase her product.”

Kouri Richins is currently in custody at the Summit County jail. A court hearing in the case is slated for May 19.

Correction • May 10, 3 p.m.: The story has been updated to correct the name of the facility where Kouri Richins is currently being held.