Widow Who Wrote Book About Sudden Loss of Husband Charged With His Murder

A Utah woman who wrote a book about coping with the sudden death of her husband has now been charged with his murder.

Kouri Darden Richins, 33, faces a first-degree aggravated murder charge along with three charges of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

First responders found Eric Richins dead in his bedroom just before 3:30 a.m. on March 4, 2022. An autopsy revealed that he’d taken five times the lethal dosage of “illicit” fentanyl.

Court documents say Kouri Richins told investigators that she and her husband had been celebrating closing of a house for her real estate business the night before his death, according to KSL. She told the detectives she made him a Moscow mule, which he drank.

At one point in the night, she said she left their bedroom to tend to one of the children and fell asleep there, awaking again at about 3 a.m. and returning to the bedroom.

“She felt Eric, and he was cold to the touch. That is when the defendant called 911,” the court documents say.

Wife’s story doesn’t match up

Investigators began finding discrepancies from that point. According to KPCW, Kouri Richins said she performed CPR on her husband, but first responders said that was unlikely, given the blood coming from his mouth.

Kouri Richins said she’d left her phone in the her bedroom when she went to the child’s room, but phone records show her phone was active during the time she said she was in the child’s room, KSL said.

“In addition, tolls on the defendant’s phone show that messages were sent and received during that time. These messages were deleted,” court documents say.

A search warrant for her phone and computers turned up several communications with an acquaintance who had multiple drug charges on their record. That acquaintance told investigatosr that Richins asked for “prescription pain medication for an investor” between December 2021 and February 2020 and had the acquaintance leave the drugs at a house she was flipping in Midway, in exchange for cash she left there.

Two weeks later, the acquaintance said, Richards said that the investor wanted “something stronger and asked for ‘some of the Michael Jackson stuff,'” meaning fentanyl.

The court documents say that Eric Richins became ill after a Valentine’s Day dinner at the couple’s home and told a friend he believed his wife had poisoned him.

Another two weeks later, the acquaintance said, Richins asked for another round of fentanyl, which she paid $900 for.

“The defendant told (the acquaintance) to leave the pills at the outdoor fire pit of the Midway, Utah, house where there was cash waiting for her,” say court documents.

A few days later, Eric Richins died of a fentanyl overdose.

Beneficiary changes

Search warrants also revealed suspicious behavior and activity. Eric Richins reportedly told his family “that if anything happened to him, she was to blame,” KPCW said Another says that Kouri Richins logged into the life insurance policies of her husband and his business partner in January 2022, removing them as each other’s beneficiary and naming herself as the sole beneficiary on both policies.  The insurance company notified the two men of the change, and they changed it back.

Days before his death, Eric Richins — a member of one of the area’s largest and most prosperous families — changed the beneficiary of his will and power of attorney to his sister, replacing his wife. According to the warrants, Kouri Richins learned of the change the day after his death, while she celebrating closing on the $2 million house she planned to flip — the celebration she told investigators she and her husband had the night he died.

But the warrants for her arrest say that Eric Richins had decided the house was too expensive and further was planning to file for divorce. Richins closed on the house the day after her husband’s death and threw “a large party at her home where she was drinking and celebrating.”

When Eric Richins’ sister arrived and she learned she was no longer the beneficiary of her husband’s will, the warrants say, she allegedly “assaulted” the sister.

The two are still battling over control of Eric Richins’ estate.

Kouri Richins published the book “Are You With Me?” a children’s book about coping with the sudden death of a husband and father, in March. A second book, “Mom, How Far Away Is Heaven?” was scheduled to be released in May, but the book’s status is now unclear. The first book was self-published.

Kouri Richins has a detention hearing scheduled for May 19.

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[Featured image: Kouri and Eric Richins/Facebook]