by Faith Karini, Andi Babineau and Sara Finch, CNN
Kouri Richins’ husband was found dead at the foot of their bed last March.
She’d just closed on a house for her business, she told investigators at the time. Around 9 p.m., she brought her husband, Eric Richins, a celebratory Moscow Mule cocktail in the bedroom of their home in Kamas, Utah.
She left to sleep with their son in his room and returned around 3 a.m. to find her husband lying on the floor cold to the touch, she told authorities. About a year to the day after her husband died, Richins published a children’s book, “Are You With Me?” about navigating grief after the loss of a loved one.
But investigators now allege she killed her husband of nine years with a lethal dose of illicit fentanyl. This month, they charged her with aggravated murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
Newly-released court documents detailed a series of illicit fentanyl purchases in the months leading up to his death.
Kouri Richins, 33, allegedly bought the drugs from an acquaintance identified as C.L. in court documents. Weeks before her husband’s death, the Richins had marked Valentine’s Day with a dinner at home.
“Shortly after the dinner, Eric became very ill. … Eric told a friend that he thought his wife was trying to poison him,” court documents say.
Kouri Richins also tried to change a life insurance policy to make herself the sole beneficiary, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Richins was arrested Monday and remains in custody. CNN has reached out to her attorneys for comment.
An autopsy and toxicology report revealed that Eric Richins, 39, died of a fentanyl overdose. He had about five times the lethal dosage in his system, according to a medical examiner.
Investigators obtained a search warrant and seized his wife’s phone and several computers in their home. They discovered communications between Kouri Richins and C.L., who had an extensive police record that included drug-related offenses, court documents say.
C.L. told detectives that at some point between December 2021 and February 2022, Kouri contacted C.L. and asked for prescription pain pills for an investor. C.L. said they obtained hydrocodone and left the pills at a property Kouri was flipping, picking up cash left for them, court documents say.
A couple of weeks later, Kouri Richins reached out again and asked for “some of the Michael Jackson stuff,” according to court documents. Kouri Richins allegedly went to C.L.’s house around Feb. 11 and paid $900 for “15-30 fentanyl pills” that C.L. had obtained from a dealer.
About two weeks later, on Feb. 26, she allegedly reached out to C.L. for more fentanyl pills. C.L. left them at an outdoor fire pit at the same property where the hydrocodone had been delivered. Again, the money was left there for pickup. By this time, according to court documents, Kouri Richins no longer owned the property.
About 3:30 a.m. on March 4, 2022, Summit County Sheriff’s deputies and EMS personnel responded to a report of an unresponsive man at the couple’s home. First responders unsuccessfully tried to revive Eric Richins. It was six days after the latest alleged pill delivery.
His wife gave investigators her version of what happened that night. The couple was celebrating closing on a house for her business and she brought him a cocktail in bed. Kouri Richins said she left him in the room and went to sleep with one of her three sons in his room because the child was “having a night terror,” court documents say.
“Defendant said she awoke around 03:00 hours and came back to her and Eric’s bedroom. She felt Eric and he was cold to the touch. That is when defendant called 911,” court documents say.
Kouri Richins allegedly told law enforcement officials that she left her phone plugged in next to her bed and did not take it to her son’s room.
“However, between when the defendant said she went to child’s room and when she called 911, the status on her phone shows that it was locked and unlocked multiple times and there was also movement recorded on the phone. In addition, tolls on defendant’s phone show that messages were sent and received during that time. These messages were deleted,” court documents say.
For months, Kouri Richins worked on her book. Last month, she appeared on “Good Things Utah,” a show on local television station ABC4, to talk about the importance of her children’s book on mourning.
She said it’s based on three concepts: connection, continuity and care.
“Connection: Keep the person’s spirit alive who has passed. … Continuity: Try and keep routines and schedules as normal as possible. … Care: Affirming their feelings; understanding when they are sad, mad, lonely and talking about those feelings and letting them know it’s OK,” Kouri Richins said in the interview.
Her three young sons helped her write the book to help them articulate their feelings, she said.
Weeks later, Kouri Richins was arrested in her husband’s death.
Two months before her husband’s death, Kouri Richins tried to change a life insurance policy he had taken out with his business partner to make herself the sole beneficiary, according to a search warrant affidavit from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
The document, obtained by CNN affiliate KSL, says that in January 2022 Richins “logged into Eric’s life insurance policy (buy/sell) agreement with his business partner and changed them from each other’s beneficiary to her as the only beneficiary.”
The insurance company notified the two men of the change, according to the document, and they were able to change it back.
The detective wrote that, in an interview conducted after Eric Richins’ death, law enforcement learned he had told his family if something were to happen to him, his wife is to blame.
Eric Richins’ sister told the detective the couple had vacationed in Greece a few years earlier and “after his wife gave him a drink, he became violently ill” and called her saying he believed his wife had tried to kill him.
In the 2022 Valentine’s Day incident, Eric Richins became ill after eating a sandwich his wife had made him. “After one bite Eric broke into hives and couldn’t breathe,” the affidavit says. “He used his son’s epi-pen as well as Benadryl before passing out for several hours.”
Eric Richins reportedly called his business partner about the incident when he woke up.
Prior to his death, Eric Richins had changed his personal life insurance policy to make his sister the beneficiary without his wife’s knowledge. “He was looking into a divorce and wanted his kids taken care of,” the affidavit says.
His family told the detective the couple had argued over a $2 million real estate investment. According to the affidavit, Eric Richins was planning to tell his wife he wouldn’t sign the papers to make the purchase and the day after his death, she signed the closing papers on her own.
According to a spokesperson for the Summit County Jail, Kouri Richins is being held without bail.
Her detention hearing is set for today.