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A mother who wrote a children’s book about grief after her husband died has now been charged with his murder.
Kouri Darden Richins, a 33-year-old mom of three from Kamas, Utah, was arrested Monday for allegedly poisoning her husband, Eric, on March 4, 2022, KUTV reported. She has been charged with aggravated murder and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute after allegedly purchasing $900 worth of fentanyl and spiking her husband’s drink.
Police responded to Kouri’s 911 call just after 3:20 a.m. on March 4, 2022, saying her husband wasn’t moving. When they arrived at the home, they found Eric on the floor at the foot of his bed and attempted to perform life-saving measures. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kouri told police she and her husband had been celebrating closing on a home she wanted to flip for her business and that she made him a Moscow Mule and served it to him in bed. She told investigators she then went into one of her kids’ bedrooms and fell asleep there after the child had a nightmare.
“(Kouri) said she awoke around 3 a.m. and came back to her and Eric’s bedroom. She felt Eric, and he was cold to the touch. That is when the defendant called 911,” court documents say, according to KSL-TV.
Kouri also told police that she had left her cell phone in her bedroom with her husband, but phone records later showed the device had been used multiple times in the child’s bedroom, the New York Post reported.
“In addition, tolls on the defendant’s phone show that messages were sent and received during that time. These messages were deleted,” said court documents reviewed by KSL-TV.
An autopsy revealed Eric’s cause of death to be a fentanyl overdose. He had five times the lethal dosage of the drug in his system, the medical examiner found.
Police began investigating Eric’s death immediately and obtained a search warrant for Kouri’s phone and computers. They quickly found messages between her and an “unnamed acquaintance,” from whom Kouri allegedly bought the drugs to poison her husband.
Investigators interviewed the acquaintance on May 2, who at the time was already facing multiple counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, as well as other drug-related offenses. Between December 2021 and February 2022, Kouri allegedly asked the acquaintance for “prescription pain medication for an investor.”
Kouri “told (the acquaintance) to leave the pills at a house defendant was flipping in Midway, Utah. (The acquaintance) left the pills at the house, and the defendant left cash for them,” the documents said, according to KSL-TV.
It appears Eric long suspected his wife of trying to kill him. Years earlier, during a vacation in Greece, Eric called one of his sisters to tell her Kouri had made him a drink that made him violently ill, KPCW reported. The sister reportedly told investigators that she believed Kouri was trying to kill her brother at the time.
In January 2022, just two months before Eric died, Kouri attempted to make herself the sole beneficiary on a life insurance policy Eric held jointly with his business partner. The insurance company notified the two men about Kouri’s attempted change and was able to cancel it.
Eric then removed Kouri from his will and added his sister as a beneficiary to ensure the money he left behind when he died went to his children. His sisters reportedly told investigators that Eric believed Kouri would “kill him for the money.”
Yet Eric stayed. On Valentine’s Day in 2022, Eric again became very ill after having dinner with his wife, KUTV reported. Eric reportedly broke out in hives and couldn’t breathe after eating. He then passed out after taking a Benadryl and using his son’s EpiPen.
“Eric believed that he had been poisoned. Eric told a friend that he thought his wife was trying to poison him,” a probable cause statement said.
On February 26, 2022, the acquaintance allegedly sold Kouri 15-30 fentanyl pills for $900. Just over a week later, Eric died.
The day after Eric died, Kouri closed on a $2 million home she wanted to flip. Eric hadn’t wanted to purchase the home, reportedly saying it was too expensive. While celebrating the closing, Kouri allegedly assaulted one of Eric’s sisters who went to the home while Kouri was throwing a party for the closing.
A little over a year after Eric died, Kouri published a children’s book called “Are You With Me?” to help children cope with losing a loved one.