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Utah mom accused of killing husband with fentanyl in drink tried to poison him multiple times before, family says

Despite the suspicions, Eric Richins stayed in the marriage with Kouri Richins because of his children, his family’s spokesperson told NBC News.
/ Source: NBC News

A Utah man who died after his wife allegedly spiked his drink with fentanyl — and then wrote a children’s book about grief — had suspected she tried to poison him multiple times and said “she was to blame” if anything happened to him, according to court records.

Despite the suspicions, a family spokesperson told NBC News on Wednesday that Eric Richins stayed in the marriage with Kouri Richins because of his children.

Eric Richins, 39, died on March 4, 2022, at his home in Kamas, about 40 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, after he was found unresponsive in his bedroom. His wife, Kouri Richins, 33, was arrested Monday on charges of aggravated murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. 

An attorney for Kouri Richins did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

‘If anything happened to him, she was to blame’

According to search warrant records obtained Wednesday from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, relatives of Eric Richins told investigators to look into his wife’s involvement.

“They advised he warned them that if anything happened to him she was to blame,” the records said. Eric Richins, according to the records, suspected his wife tried to poison him on multiple occasions.

“According to a sister, Eric and his wife went to Greece a few years ago and after his wife gave him a drink he became violently ill and called his sister saying he believed his wife had tried to kill him,” the records said.

“On Valentine’s Day of 2022, his wife brought him a sandwich, which after one bite Eric broke into hives and couldn’t breathe. He used his son’s epi-pen as well as Benadryl before passing out for several hours,” according to the records.

He was looking into a divorce and had recently changed his life insurance policy from his wife to his sister, the records said.

Staying together for the kids

Family spokesperson Greg Skordas said on Wednesday that Eric Richins stayed in the marriage for the sake of his boys.

“They have three boys, three young boys, and I think Eric, being so involved in their lives as a soccer coach, baseball coach, basketball coach, wanted to keep the family together,” Skordas said.

“Eric was a good father. ... He was a philanthropist. He cared about a lot of people ... he did the best he could to make the most of his marriage.”

Skordas added the Richins family is very happy charges were filed against Kouri Richins and they are hopeful “justice will be served.

A Moscow Mule, lethal levels of fentanyl and deleted texts

Authorities said in a probable cause statement that Eric Richins died after his wife served him a celebratory Moscow Mule before his death.

Kouri Richins, according to the statement, told investigators that the night before her husband died they were celebrating because she had closed on a home for her business. She said she made him a Moscow Mule in the kitchen and took it to the bedroom and that he drank it sitting in bed, the statement said.

This photo provided by shows Kouri Richins at the KPCW studio in Park City, Utah, April 12, 2023. Richins was arrested on Monday, May 8, in Utah and is accused in charging documents of poisoning her husband with a lethal dose of fentanyl at their home in Kamas, a small mountain town near Park City.
Kouri Richins. / AP

She said she slept in one of her children’s bedrooms because the child had a night terror, according to the statement. She allegedly woke up around 3 a.m. and found her husband was in their bedroom “cold to the touch” and called 911.

Kouri Richins also told deputies she left her cellphone in their bedroom and did not take it to her child’s room, the statement said.

But investigators later learned that her phone had been locked and unlocked several times, and that it showed movement during the time frame when she said she was in her child’s room, according to the statement. Text messages were sent and received that had been deleted, the statement said said.

Summit County sheriff’s deputies said that Eric Richins was on the floor at the foot of the bed. Lifesaving measures were attempted, but he was declared dead. An autopsy and a toxicology report found that he died from a fentanyl overdose, according to the probable cause statement.

The medical examiner said that he had five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system and that it was “illicit” fentanyl, not medical-grade. It is also believed he ingested the drugs orally, according to the statement.

During the investigation, authorities learned that Kouri Richins had allegedly contacted an acquaintance identified as “C.L.” to obtain pills, the probable cause states. In one incident, she allegedly asked the acquaintance “for some Michael Jackson stuff,” it said.

“The defendant asked specifically for fentanyl,” the statement said. “C.L. contacted a dealer in Ogden on February 11, 2022 and procured 15-30 fentanyl pills from that dealer.”

Three days later, Eric Richins became very ill following a Valentine’s Day dinner at his home with his wife, the statement said. He believed he had been poisoned and “told a friend that his wife was trying to poison him,” it said.

Weeks later, authorities allege that Kouri Richins reached out to her acquaintance again and obtained more pills. Eric Richins died shortly afterward.

Eric Richins.
Eric Richins.Walker Mortuary

‘The perfect little life’

A friend who knew Eric Richins for about 20 years recalled being shocked over news that he had died.

“I just would have never thought that was coming. He’s not very old and pretty healthy it seems like,” Bruce Capers, 52, of Salt Lake City, said in a phone call Wednesday.

Capers said he talked to his friend quite often, mostly about hunting and trips, and had met Kouri Richins only a few times. He said it looked like the couple had “the perfect little life.”

“It seemed like he had the perfect life, like he had everything going for him,” Capers said, adding that he’s still trying to process the charges against Kouri Richins.

A year after her husband’s death, Richins published a book about grief titled “Are You With Me?” to “create peace and comfort for children who have lost a loved one,” according to a description on Amazon. She dedicated the book to “my amazing husband and a wonderful father.” It has since been removed from Amazon.

In an interview with KTVX-TV of Salt Lake City last month Richins said that the death happened “unexpectedly” and “took us all by shock.” She said she wrote the book after she saw how her children struggled with their father’s death.

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