Utah Mom Who Wrote Children’s Book About Grief After Husband’s Death Now Charged With His Murder
A 33-year-old widowed mother-of-three wrote a children’s book to help her bereaved children deal with grief in the aftermath of their father’s death. Only months after the book was published, she was arrested for his murder.
Kouri and Eric Richins had been married nine years and shared three sons when Eric died suddenly on March 4, 2022. The boys were all under the age of 10 when the tragedy occurred.
To help their kids process the enormous loss and their grief of going through life without their dad, Kouri wrote a children’s book called Are You With Me? about a boy who loses his father but always feels his presence with him. However, just over two months after the book’s publication, on Monday, May 8, Kouri Richins was arrested and charged with her husband’s murder.
According to KPCW, the 33-year-old mom is charged with a first-degree felony for aggravated murder and three second-degree felonies for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
A police search warrant revealed that 39-year-old Eric Richins was killed by a fentanyl overdose at the family’s home near Park City, Utah on March 4, 2022. Kouri told police that she had made her husband a mixed vodka drink called a Moscow Mule and that he had eaten a THC gummy before going to bed on March 3.
According to The Washington Post, she said they were partying that night to celebrate the sale of a home that she had sold as a real estate agent. She said she then went to sleep with one of their sons who was having night terrors, and when she returned to the bedroom, she allegedly found her husband unresponsive and “cold to the touch”. She called 911, and he was soon pronounced dead.
The toxicology report from the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office told a different story. It revealed that Eric had been killed by a large amount of fentanyl. In fact, the medical examiner stated that Eric has five times the lethal dosage of the drug in his system.
Eric’s family members knew from the start that something wasn’t right. Shortly after his death, they told investigators that they thought Kouri killed her husband, according to KPCW. Warrants revealed that “he warned them that if anything happened to him, she was to blame.”
One of Eric’s sisters informed the police that Eric had called her during a vacation in Greece a few years before he was killed. He had become violently ill after consuming a drink his wife had given him. He thought Kouri had tried to poison him.
A warrant stated that Eric held a joint life insurance policy with Cody Wright, his business partner who co-owned C&E Stone Masonry with him. Kouri allegedly logged into the two men’s life insurance policy only months before her husband’s death. Both men had named one another as the insurance beneficiary, but Kouri changed it to where she was policy’s sole beneficiary. The men were notified of the changes, and they changed it back, removing Kouri, but they never told her they changed it back.
Some other things didn’t add up to investigators, either. For one thing, Kouri said she performed CPR on Eric, but that seemed unlikely to fire and EMS first responders with how blood was coming from the victim’s mouth. While the first responders were administering life-saving measures to Eric, they asked where Eric’s medications were, and Kouri said she didn’t know, blaming the maid for putting them in random places.
According to The New York Times, Kouri told investigators that she left her phone charging by her bed while she was with her son on the night of her husband’s death. However, investigators discovered the phone had been locked and unlocked “multiple times” during that time. She had also sent and received messages then, and the messages were later deleted.
During the investigation, authorities also discovered text messages between Kouri and an acquaintance who she allegedly bought drugs from. The acquaintance stated that Richins initially purchased hydrocodone pills between December 2021 and February 2022.
She later reached out asking for stronger drugs "some of the Michael Jackson stuff", referring to fentanyl, reported the BBC. Then, three days after she obtained the drugs, she shared a celebratory Valentine’s Day dinner with her husband. After the dinner, he became extremely ill. According to court documents, he believed his wife had tried to poison him.
Two weeks later, Kouri got more fentanyl. She bought 15 to 30 fentanyl pills for $900, according to court documents. Shortly after that, her husband died.
Margaret Olson, one of the case’s prosecutors for the Summit County Attorney’s Office, told The Washington Post that the Kouri is “presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” She also cautioned, “Please keep in mind there are three young children belonging to the decedent and the accused, making this matter very sensitive and difficult.”
If Kouri Richins is convicted, she may face 25 years to life in prison. A detention hearing is scheduled for May 19.