Utah author of grief book after husband died charged with his murder
9th May 2023

Mom-of-three who wrote a grief book to help her boys when her husband died is charged with his murder after five times lethal dose of fentanyl was found in his system

  • Kouri Richins charged with murdering her husband Eric in Provo, Utah last year
  • He died of a fentanyl overdose after she gave him a Moscow Mule at their home 
  • Police say he feared she was going to kill him and had tried previously  

A Mormon mother-of-three who wrote a children’s book on grief to help her sons deal with their father’s death has been charged with his murder.

Kouri Richins , 33, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of poisoning her husband Eric to death last year at their home in Kamas, Utah. A medical examiner said they found five times the lethal dose of fentanyl – a painkiller 100 times stronger than morphine – in Eric’s system after he died on March 4 last year.

Richins told police she had made Eric a Moscow Mule and gave him a THC gummy on the night of his death to celebrate him selling a home for their real estate business. 

She claims she then left him alone and went to soothe one of their three children, returning to their bedroom at 3am to find him passed out and ‘cold to the touch’. 

Following his death, Richins wrote ‘Are you with me?’ – a picture book to help children cope after the death of a loved one.  She did television interviews to promote the book as recently as last month.

Now, police say she poisoned him with fentanyl. They have not yet confirmed her alleged motive but say she previously changed his life insurance policy to make herself the sole beneficiary. 

He and his business partner changed it back when they discovered it, and he is even said to have told friends that if anything happened to him, his wife was to blame. 

Kouri Richins (left) was arrested on Monday in Utah and is accused of poisoning her husband, Eric Richins (right), with fentanyl at their home in Kamas, a small mountain town near Park City

Following his death, Richins wrote ‘Are you with me?’ – a picture book she wrote to help children cope after the death of a loved one

Kouri says she wrote the book last year to help the couple’s three kids deal with their grief 

The $14.99 book is still available on Amazon and is dedicated to Eric Richins 

Richins had told police she had performed CPR on Eric after finding him unresponsive in their home, but fire crew and medics who responded to the scene said this was unlikely as there was blood coming from his mouth.

Her arrest comes just two months after that of Mormon dentist Jim Craig, who is suspected of poisoning his wife to death in Colorado.  

In the years before his death, Eric told his family he feared his wife was trying to kill him. There were two occasions when Eric became violently ill after having drinks or dinner with his wife.

One of Eric’s two sisters told police he had called her three years ago from Greece where he and Richins were on vacation together. 

He claimed Richins had given him a drink that made him violently ill and said he believed she had tried to kill him. 

In January 2022, she changed Eric’s joint life insurance policy, which he shared with his business partner Cody Wright, so that she was the only beneficiary, a warrant states.

When the insurance company told the partners, who own the business C&E Stone Masonry, of the change, they were able to change it back. 

After finding out that Richins had tried to change his life insurance policy, Eric changed the beneficiary of his will and his power of attorney to his sister without telling his wife because he was scared she might ‘kill him for the money’, a warrant states.

A medical examiner said they found five times the lethal dose of fentanyl – a painkiller 100 times stronger than morphine – in Eric’s system after he died on March 4 last year. Pictured: Richins and Eric with one of their sons

Eric’s family told investigators shortly after he died they suspected Richins had killed the father-of-three. Pictured: Kouri and Eric Richens with their three children

‘God certainly perfected the mold when Eric was born’: Obituary for Mormon husband and father ‘poisoned by his wife’ 

‘Eric Eugene Richins made his last extravagant and largely unexpected gesture on March 4, 2022, signing off on a life, in his own words, “lived to the fullest and with few regrets.”

‘God certainly perfected the mold when Eric was born to Gene and Linda (Carter) Richins on May 13, 1982 in Bountiful, UT. Eric’s world revolved around his family, his love for hunting, the family cattle ranch, and his insane drive as a successful entrepreneur.

‘Being born into the Richins Legacy shaped Eric’s formative years and resulted in a lifetime of hard work, dedication, and fierce loyalty. Being the eldest was a dubious task, but he was up for the challenge and led and loved his sisters fiercely. At an early age, Eric learned the joys of keeping horses and cows around. He spent countless hours helping his dad work the ranch, hauling hay, feeding the animals, and mending fences. He loved his family unconditionally, and was a devoted son, brother, and uncle.

‘Eric was a family man, who always strove to be the absolute best father and husband. He was an attentive and loving father to his three sons Carter (9), Ashton (7), and Weston (5), and a devoted husband to the love of his life, and wife of nine years, Kouri (Darden) Richins. Eric did absolutely everything in his power to provide his family with every possible opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun.

‘Growing up Eric was a serious athlete and loved all sports, whether it was watching them or playing them. He was involved in cross country, basketball, baseball, and soccer. He was also the coach or assistant coach on all his boys’ teams. He spent countless hours coaching and teaching the boys to “play aggressive” and “give it their all!” Eric truly cared about every single child he coached and wanted the absolute best for all of them.

‘Eric was an avid outdoorsman and dedicated hunter. He was an excellent archer and marksman, and had multiple trophy animals from all around the world including Africa, Mexico, Canada, and the United States.

‘There was never a dull moment when you were around Eric. Whether it be him showing up to a family dinner with no socks or sleeves on his shirt because he had to make an emergency bathroom stop along the way or his calling to tell you he rolled the four-wheeler for the umpteenth time, is stuck, and needs you to come get him.

‘Eric loved to have fun and was always the life of the party. He owned almost every motorized toy possible, from four-wheelers and side-by-sides, to trucks and snow mobiles. Because of this, he of course holds the Richins family record for most rolls and collisions of motorized vehicles, as well as most stitches received from a single incident 200 on his face to be exact.

‘Eric was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder-day Saints. He served a two-year mission in Mexico City where he learned to speak Spanish fluently. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in International Studies with a minor in Spanish. Together, Eric’s mission and his education truly shaped his business acumen. He had the perfect combination of business sense and foresight. He built a very successful masonry business from the ground up and helped many friends do the same. He had a special ability to build close relationships with everyone he worked with which really allowed his business to thrive. Eric loved every aspect of his job but most of all he loved the people he worked for and those he worked with.

‘Eric faithfully supported organizations that he truly believed in. He never was one that wanted recognition or accolades; he did most things anonymously and without recognition. Eric was a true champion of all people. It did not matter if you were an employee, family, friend, or the next random person walking down the street. If you needed anything, you could count on him. He truly cared about each person he met. He was always trying to help people find better situations in work and in life. Eric made sure to set time aside to do what he loved most and made sure that everyone around him did the same.

‘Eric loved fully, laughed loudly, and lived life with reckless abandon. He enjoyed great adventures to far off places, but also cherished the small and finer things in life like his Under Armour sweat suits and spending time with his family and friends. No obstacle was too great for Rico, he simply viewed each one as a challenge. No peaks were too high and the next adventure was always just around the next bend.

‘Words can’t describe the loneliness and loss that is felt in every heart that was lucky enough to know him. We all need to learn from Eric’s example and be sure to make the time to have fun and do what we love. Thank you Rico, for being such an inspiration and role model for us all. We love you Eric, with all our hearts and more.

‘Eric is preceded in death by his amazing mother, Linda (Carter) Richins. His paternal grandparents, H. Lamont and Althea (Ferguson) Richins; his maternal grandfather, Charles Carter.

‘He is survived by his three incredible sons, Carter, Ashton, and Weston; his wife, Kouri (Darden); His father Eugene F.; and his sisters, Katie (Clint) Benson and Amy (William) Richins, his nieces Madalin and Lillian Benson, and his maternal grandmother, Joan Carter. His is also survived by a multitude of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who all loved and adored him.’

But a month later, court documents show that on Valentine’s Day last year, Eric suffered an allergic reaction following a meal with Richins. He could not breathe and passed out after using an EpiPen and taking Benadryl. 

Court documents say Richins had bought $900 worth of fentanyl pills from an acquaintance before the Valentine’s Day meal and two weeks later she asked for $900 more. Days later, Eric died of an overdose.

Following Eric’s death, Richins had claimed he had an addiction to pain medicine in high school but there was no substance abuse issues since. 

But friends and family told police said they hadn’t any idea of Eric being addicted to any form of medicine, and officers did not find any pain killers in the family home. 

Kouri Richins was arrested on Monday in Utah and is accused of poisoning her husband, Eric Richins, with fentanyl at their home in Kamas

In addition to the murder charge, Richins also faces charges involving the alleged possession of GHB – a narcolepsy drug frequently used in recreational settings, including at dance clubs.

The charges are based on officers’ interactions with Richins that night and the account of an ‘unnamed acquaintance’ who claims to have sold her the fentanyl. 

Two months ago, Richins promoted her children’s book on local TV and told a segment called ‘Good Things Utah’ that she had written it to help her three boys deal with the grief of losing their father.

She called her husband’s death unexpected and described how it sent her and her three boys reeling.

For children, Richins said, grieving was about ‘making sure that their spirit is always alive in your home.’

‘It’s – you know – explaining to my kid just because he’s not present here with us physically, doesn’t mean his presence isn’t here with us,’ she told the anchors, who commended her for being an amazing mother.

Richins’ attorney, Skye Lazaro, declined to comment on the charges.

Court documents show the charges brought against Richins

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