Utah mom charged with poisoning husband took out $2m life insurance before his death
The Utah mother-of-three charged with poisoning her husband took out four insurance policies on his life without his knowledge — with benefits totaling nearly $2m, prosecutors alleged in documents updated Thursday.
A detention hearing for jailed Kouri Richins, 33 — who is being held at Summit County Jail after her arrest earlier this month — was scheduled for Friday but postponed until 12 June. In the 14 months since her husband’s death, Kouri wrote a children’s book about grief and loss that she promoted on local television.
According to the updated documents, Kouri took out the policies between 2015 and 2017, and her husband, Eric, discovered other surreptitious financial activity in 2020, AP reported. The Utah father, who grew up in a well-known ranching family and co-owned a stone masonry business, found “that his wife had taken out a $250,000 home equity line of credit and spent it, withdrawn $100,000 from his bank accounts, and spent more than $30,000 on his credit cards, according to the documents.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 business meant for tax payments, the documents state,” AP reported, adding that the filings claimed Kouri agreed to repay Eric when he confronted her.
He’d also met with a divorce attorney and estate planner in 2020, according to the documents — less than 18 months before prosecutors allege Kouri fatally poisoned him.
It was a nefarious and untimely end that Eric had, tragically, seen coming. He suspected his wife had tried to poison him before and had removed Kouri as a beneficiary from his wife and estate.
She, however, did not know, according to documents — and the alleged poisoning for profit brought not an immediate financial windfall but a nightmare of legal wrangling and, ultimately, murder charges.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, because Eric died over a year ago, and [his family] had obviously been involved in taking care of his estate, trying to maintain some relationship with the children, and working with the police and prosecutors who were investigating his wife,” lawyer and Richins family spokesman Greg Skordas told The Independent on Wednesday.
“And so everything sort of happened all of a sudden, and she was charged, and it wasn’t necessarily unexpected, but it certainly brought on a flurry of attention to the case that hadn’t happened for over a year.”
He says: “It was right up until the end that she was carrying on as though nothing had happened, and that she was a victim, and she was a martyr and promoting her book. And I don’t know to what extent she knew this was coming or suspected it, but we certainly did.”
Court records mention a private investigator, presumably retained by the family, though Mr Skordas declined to comment.
He said the family had intended to attend the Friday hearing to show that they were watching the case closely.
“In this day and age, when a person dies of an opioid overdose, it’s not necessarily immediately seen as a problem, because it happens far too often -- and so it took a while to show the police and have the police confirm that this wasn’t an accidental drug overdose and, in fact, it was something that was caused by someone else,” Mr Skordas tells The Independent. “And once they did their investigation, and they did a great investigation, they were able to confirm what the family already knew.”
According to previously filed court documents, Kouri and Eric celebrated Valentine’s Day 2022 with a dinner at home after which Eric again became very ill.
“Eric believed that he had been poisoned,” the documents state. “Eric told a friend that he thought his wife was trying to poison him.”
Within weeks, prosecutors allege, she did exactly that.
At some point between December 2021 and January 2022, according to court documents, Kouri had contacted an acquaintance with drug convictions and asked them to procure “some pain medication for an investor who had a back injury.”
The acquaintance bought hydrocodone pills from a dealer and left them at a house Kouri was flipping; she left cash in return, the documents state. But Kouri reached out again about two weeks later, claiming the investor wanted “something stronger” and asking for “some of the MichaelJackson stuff ... specifically for fentanyl.” Three days before Valentine’s Day, Kouri paid $900 for 15-30 fentanyl pills, the documents state.
But two weeks after that, she again went back to the acquaintance and asked for another $900 worth of the same drugs; the pills were left a the outdoor fire pit of the Midway house, where Kouri had left cash, according to the documents.
Eric died six days later of a fentanyl overdose — and Kouri almost immediately closed on the Midway house, which they’d allegedly been arguing about; relatives believed Eric was going to tell his wife he didn’t want to buy the home. She held a party at her home the day after his death to celebrate the property deal; according to court documents, Eric had never informed her he’d taken her out of his will — and it was only at the party that she discovered that fact.
Two weeks after his death, Kouri put the 20,000-square-foot home back on the market, KPCW reported after her arrest. Realtor Mike Malmrose told the outlet that the mansion was under contract with an asking price of $3.75m.
The Richins family has petitioned to invoke Utah’s “slayer statute,” which prevents killers from profiting from their crimes.
Kouri’s arrest, which happened just days before the weekend combination of Mother’s Day and Eric’s birthday, “was all hard because it all just resurfaced again,” Richins spokesman Skordas told The Independent. “ And you’ve got to think about the boys too, because they’ve lost their father. And, for most purposes, they’ve now lost their mother.”
Kouri’s lawyer has not responded to requests for comment from The Independent.