Home » Mom of Utah author accused of poisoning husband possibly ‘involved in planning’ his death, police say

Mom of Utah author accused of poisoning husband possibly ‘involved in planning’ his death, police say

by John Jefferson
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FIRST ON FOX — To an outsider, Kouri and Eric Richins had it all: nine years of marriage, three sons, successful careers and a decent-sized roof over their heads in Kamas, Utah.

But after Eric, who owned a successful masonry business, died unexpectedly of fentanyl poisoning at age 39 in their home on March 3, 2022, Summit County authorities and prosecutors began to uncover a darker image of the seemingly perfect family. 

Authorities in 2023 charged Kouri, now 35, with aggravated murder and drug possession, alleging she poisoned Eric with the illicit drug as a means to collect millions in life insurance funds.

The same night Eric died, authorities say he, Kouri and her mother, Lisa Darden, were celebrating Kouri’s recent closure on a $2 million mansion under construction in Wasatch County. The then-33-year-old, who owned a real estate company, wanted to finish building the mansion and sell it for a profit, a warrant states. 

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After her husband’s death, Kouri went on to write and sell a children’s book about a father’s death titled, “Are You With Me?”

Now, a recently unsealed search warrant reveals what could be an even darker picture of the family.

UTAH MOM KOURI RICHINS GOOGLED ‘LUXURY PRISONS FOR THE RICH’ AFTER ALLEGEDLY KILLING HER HUSBAND: DOCS

In May 2023, a Summit County Sheriff’s Office detective submitted a search warrant affidavit expressing his belief that Darden may have been “involved in planning and orchestrating Eric’s death,” based on her own connection to a suspicious death in 2006.

Kouri-Richins

“In investigating Kouri Richins’ associates, it was discovered that in 2006, Richins’ mother, Lisa Darden was living with an adult female with whom she was having a romantic relationship. In April of that year, her romantic partner died unexpectedly,” the Summit County detective wrote in the affidavit for a search warrant obtained by Fox News Digital.

An autopsy revealed that Darden’s partner’s “immediate cause of death was a drug poisoning from an overdose of oxycodone.”

UTAH AUTHOR ACCUSED OF MURDERING HUSBAND ALLEGEDLY CAUGHT TRYING TO STEAL HIS LIFE INSURANCE BENEFITS

Eric and Kouri Richins at a football game

“Further investigation showed that Lisa Darden had been named as the beneficiary of her partner’s estate a short time before her death,” the detective continued. “The female did have current prescriptions for oxycodone and reportedly struggled with abusing her meds. She, however, was not in a state of recovery from addiction at the time of her death. Based on my training and experience, this would likely rule out the possibility of an accidental overdose.”

“This would likely rule out the possibility of an accidental overdose.”

— Summit County Sheriff’s Office detective

The detective further stated that based on Darden’s “proximity to her partner’s suspicious overdose death,” as well as her close relationship with her daughter, “it is possible she was involved in planning and orchestrating Eric’s death.”

READ THE AFFIDAVIT

Skye Lazaro, the attorney representing Kouri Richins, denied the detective’s suggestion, saying Darden’s partner was a victim of the national opioid crisis, which killed 112,000 Americans between May 2022 and May 2023, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Summit County is well aware that opioid addiction and fentanyl overdose is a rampant problem throughout the country. According to the CDC, 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl,” Lazaro said in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

UTAH CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR HAD ‘PERFECT’ MARRIAGE WITH HUSBAND BEFORE ALLEGED MURDER: FRIEND

Lazaro continued: “Not only was Summit County the first Utah county to file a lawsuit against ‘Big Pharma’ Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors, in 2022 Park City Police, the Summit County Sheriff, Summit County Attorney and Park City School District issued a joint statement to its citizens warning they’re finding an increasing amount of fentanyl, a drug fueling a surge in accidental overdoses nationwide.”  

Kouri-Richins

Darden’s partner, Lazaro said, “was one of the millions that suffered from, and ultimately succumbed to, opioid addiction,” which “is hardly ‘suspicious.’”

“It is tragic, and unfortunately, quite common,” the attorney said.

In a November 2023 interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Darden insisted upon her daughter’s innocence.

“I do not believe in my heart Kouri could ever … kill Eric, but kill anything or anyone,” Darden said, adding later that Kouri and Eric were “a couple, they were very much in love” and “very happy.”

Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband then wrote a children's book about grieving, cries during a bail hearing Monday, June 12, 2023, in Park City, Utah.

But court documents suggest otherwise.

Prosecutors allege Kouri purchased four different life insurance policies on Eric’s life totaling more than $1.9 million between 2015 and 2017.

UTAH CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR ACCUSED OF MURDERING HUSBAND TOOK OUT $2M IN LIFE INSURANCE PRIOR TO HIS DEATH

Eric Richins’ estate-planning attorney, Kristal Bowman-Carter, said he “made and requested several unusual to highly unusual choices and provisions to his estate plan” prior to his sudden death, including the decision to take Kouri off his will and made his sister and father the beneficiaries instead, court documents state.

Kouri-Richins

His family told authorities he had been in fear for his life after Kouri allegedly tried to poison him several years ago in Greece and again on Valentine’s Day in 2022.

Bowman-Carter said Eric approached her in 2020 to discuss his estate planning.

UTAH CHILDREN’S AUTHOR SUES HUSBAND’S ESTATE AFTER ALLEGEDLY POISONING HIM

“At our meeting, he told me he had two primary goals. His first goal was to protect him in the short-term from fairly recently discovered and ongoing abuse and misuse of his finances by his wife Kouri Richins. … His second was to protect the three young sons he and Kouri had together in the long-term by ensuring that Kouri would never be in a position to manage his property after his death,” Bowman-Carter wrote.

Split headshots of Kouri and Eric Richins

Eric believed that designating someone other than his wife “to manage his property after his death would protect his sons from Kouri’s poor financial choices and decisions,” she added.

Eric also made clear that, while he wanted his children to be the primary beneficiaries of his estate, Kouri should only “benefit from the minimum amount he was required to leave her and that she could not control either” her share or her children’s share of Eric’s estate. He went on to choose his sister and father as his successor trustees, his lawyer wrote.

On Jan. 1, 2022, months before Eric’s death, Kouri “surreptitiously and without authorization changed the beneficiary for his $2 million life insurance policy to herself,” the document states. Eric received a notification about the change and switched the beneficiary back to his business partner.

Kouri and Eric Richins and a mansion

Three months later, Kouri allegedly spiked her husband’s Moscow Mule with fentanyl, an opioid that is lethal in small doses, while they were celebrating Kouri’s purchase of the $2 million Wasatch County mansion, which had apparently been a subject of disagreement for the couple. The next day, Kouri allegedly closed a deal on the mansion “alone” after her husband was pronounced dead.

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Skye Lazaro, Kouri’s defense attorney in the murder case, said during a bail hearing last summer that making poor financial decisions does not make her client a murderer, according to KUTV.

Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband then wrote a children's book about grieving, looks on during a bail hearing Monday, June 12, 2023, in Park City, Utah.

When authorities contacted Bowman-Carter asking her to explain the details of Eric’s will to Kouri, the lawyer said the defendant “became extremely upset” and started yelling, according to court documents.

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“Kouri shouted, ‘What’s wrong with you people?’ and ‘How could you do this to me?’ and ‘This is my house,’” Bowman-Carter said. “I explained to her that the Trust owned the house and told her, ‘This is not your house.’”

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office referred Fox News Digital to the Summit County Attorney’s Office. The attorney’s office declined to comment on the affidavit.

Fox News Digital reached out to Darden and Greg Skordas, an attorney representing Eric Richins’ family.

Read the full article here

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