Utah children’s book author accused of husband’s murder changed life insurance policies, prosecutors say

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) A Utah woman who wrote a children’s book about grief after her husband’s death and was later arrested and charged with killing him made changes to her husband’s life insurance years before they was poisoned to death, according to indictment documents updated Thursday.

The additional charges, previously mentioned in the search warrants but not in the prosecution documents, led to the postponement of a detention hearing scheduled for Friday that would have been the first time Kouri Richins was in court since her case became l last true crime this month. The hearing was postponed to 12 June.

Prosecutors say Kouri Richins, 33, poisoned her husband, Eric Richins, 39, by slipping five times the lethal dose of fentanyl into a cocktail she made for him in March 2022. The mother of three later published a children’s book called Are You with Me? about a deceased father clad in angel wings who watches over his children. She promoted it on television and radio, describing the book as a way to help children mourn the loss of a loved one.

Years earlier, Kouri Richins bought four life insurance policies without her husband’s knowledge from 2015 to 2017 with benefits totaling nearly $2 million, prosecutors said in documents updated Thursday.

The documents don’t reveal when Eric Richins discovered the changes, but he says he met with a divorce attorney and estate planner in October 2020, a month after he discovered his wife had made several other major financial moves without his knowledge.

Prosecutors said Eric Richins discovered his wife had taken out a $250,000 home equity line of credit and spent it, withdrew $100,000 from his bank accounts and spent more than $30,000 on his credit cards, according to the documents. Kouri Richins also stole about $134,000 from her husband’s tax-paying business, the documents said.

She agreed to repay her husband when he confronted her, according to the documents.

Family members interviewed by investigators indicated that Eric Richins was seeking a divorce from Kouri Richins and had recently changed his will and life insurance policy.

Previous prosecution documents and warrants detail the year-long investigation that authorities pursued before arresting Kouri Richins this month. The documents include interviews with an anonymous whistleblower who claims Richins dealt hydrocodone and fentanyl in the weeks and months leading up to her husband’s death.

Richins, a real estate agent, told the drug dealer both drugs were for an investor with back pain. The dealer said Richins bought the hydrocodone just before Valentine’s Day, when prosecutors say he added the drug to Eric Richins’ sandwich.

After he survived, his wife asked for stronger drugs, especially some of Michael Jackson’s stuff,” the drug dealer told investigators. When Jackson died of cardiac arrest in 2009, medical examiners found prescription drugs and potent anesthetics in his system, not fentanyl.

Kouri Richins’ attorney, Skye Lazaro, declined to comment on the allegations.

The case turned the world’s eyes to the sleepy back towns of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, which are rapidly evolving from mostly agricultural communities to high-end bedroom communities, where first- and second-generation homeowners Once like the Richins they can enjoy easy access to skiing, hiking trails and the alpine lakes of the nearby Uinta Mountains. The Richins lived in a new development in the town of Francis, which is approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Salt Lake City.

Eric Richins was descended from a large family, well known locally, with members active in local politics and in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He met Kouri Richins when he worked at a local Home Depot where he often shopped, a former colleague told KUTV.

Eric’s family told investigators they had raised suspicions that his wife had previously tried to poison him, including while vacationing in Greece a few years ago. They also raised questions about marital disagreements resulting from changes to his will and the purchase of an unfinished nearby mansion in Midway, Utah, which Kouri Richins bought hoping to sell quickly.

The person who says he sold Kouri Richins the fentanyl told investigators he left the pills in the large unfinished house, a 20,000-square-foot (1,860-square-meter) manor that, when completed, will have eight bedrooms and a indoor volleyball court. , a video ad promoting its sale is shown.

The marital disputes over the home are the basis for one of many unanswered questions about motive likely to arise if Richins’ case goes to trial. Since Eric Richins’ death, his relatives have quarreled with his wife over her property, including conflicting claims about how to split a bricklaying business with his former partner and what claims Kouri Richins has about a trust reserved for his relative. closer.

Greg Skordas, an attorney and victims’ advocate who works with relatives of Eric Richins, said Richins’ three children are staying with an unnamed relative while their mother awaits trial. Katie Richins-Benson, sister of Eric Richins and manager of his estate, has filed for child guardianship.

Civil court records that have been filed in several cases since Eric Richin’s death outline how what lawyers call the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death have long been circulating. The murder charges were intertwined with questions about his assets and a property held in a trust and managed by his sister. Kouri Richins has been fighting with family members of her deceased husband since the day after her death, her documents show.

Kouri Richins and her sister-in-law argued the day after Eric Richins’ death at the family home, according to the documents. Kouri Richins later sued for more than $3.6 million and to remove Katie Richins-Benson as trustee, claiming a prenuptial agreement signed by her and her husband entitled her to her assets if he died before the divorce.

Utah law prohibits convicted murderers from profiting from their crime.

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