It was one of the most moving interviews that the KTVX-TV morning show Good Things Utah had ever conducted. The recently widowed mother of three Kouri Richins, of Kamas, Utah, was promoting her recently published bereavement book for children, Are You with Me?
The beautiful 33-year-old calmly explained how she had written it to help her three young sons cope with the death of their father, Eric, who had passed away unexpectedly in March 2022. “Dedicated to my amazing husband and a wonderful father,” the cover featured an illustration of Eric smiling in the clouds with angel wings and a halo.
“It completely took us all by shock,” Kouri, dressed in a brown leather hooded jacket, said on-air of Eric’s death. “My kids and I wrote this book on the different emotions and grieving processes that we’ve experienced last year.”
She then discussed her three C’s—Connection, Continuity, and Care—which helped her small boys keep their father’s spirit alive in their house. “It’s comforting to them to know that … Dad is still here,” she said matter-of-factly, seemingly devoid of emotion. “It’s just in a different way.”
The cover of the book, dedicated to “my amazing husband and a wonderful father,” featured an illustration of Eric Richins smiling in the clouds with angel wings and a halo.
“It’s only been a year,” observed Good Things Utah host Surae Chinn. “How did you go from processing death to ‘I need to write a book and help others?’”
Kouri said she had searched Amazon and Barnes & Noble for a children’s book to help her sons, Carter, nine, Ashton, seven, and Weston, five, grieve for their dad, but came up empty. So she decided to write her own, and self-published it through Amazon Digital Services.
“You are an amazing woman and mom,” host Deena Manzanares told Kouri at the end of the five-minute interview, which has since gone viral. “And we thank you for being vulnerable and sharing this.”
Then, just a few hours after the interview aired, the TV station received a chilling anonymous e-mail. It said: “You know she killed her husband?”
Farm Boy Meets Cashier Girl
Eric Eugene Richins was born in May 1982 to a devout Mormon family of cattle ranchers in Bountiful, Utah. He was the eldest of three siblings, and his childhood revolved around the family ranch, where he helped his father haul hay, mend fences, and feed the animals.
After high school, Eric served a two-year Mormon mission in Mexico City, before attending the University of Utah. He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies.
An entrepreneur by nature, Eric started a masonry business, C&E Stone Masonry, with his close friend and business partner, Cody Wright. The thriving business specialized in intricate stone exteriors, paving stones, and tiles for luxurious homes.
As part of his job, Eric regularly bought supplies at the Home Depot, where he first met Kouri Darden, in 2013. The shy, rugged outdoorsman was instantly smitten with the attractive 22-year-old brunette clerk, but couldn’t summon up the courage to ask her out on a date.
“I could tell he was interested in her,” remembered Linda King, who worked at the Home Depot with Kouri, “because his employees would come in and say, Eric kind of likes her, but he’s afraid.”
So Linda decided to play matchmaker, encouraging Eric to strike up a conversation with Kouri. “They ended up going on a date,” said Linda. “And that was it.”
Linda describes their whirlwind courtship as a “fairy-tale romance,” culminating in Eric’s mustering the courage to propose.
“They ended up going on a date, and that was it.”
Kouri and Eric got married on June 15, 2013, in the backyard of Eric’s home in Kamas, a tiny mountain town 16 miles east of Park City. Before the ceremony, Eric and Kouri signed a pre-nuptial agreement, which, among other things, gave her his share of C&E Stone Masonry as well as his entire estate in the event of his death, as long as they were still married.
The young bride started her own realty business, becoming a member of the Conrad Cruz Real Estate Services, and gave birth to their three sons in quick succession. She had a bubbly, vivacious personality, and appeared from social media to be a devoted wife and mother.
But Kouri soon found herself in deep financial trouble as she tried to gain a foothold in the highly competitive Park City real-estate market. According to a Summit County District Court charging affidavit, she began plundering Eric’s bank accounts and maxing out his credit cards to keep her business afloat. (Skye Lazaro, declined AIR MAIL’s request for comment; there is currently a gag order in place for Kouri’s case.)
According to the affidavit, Kouri also purchased at least four life-insurance policies on her husband’s life between 2015 and 2017, giving her a total payout of $1,947,000 on his death.
Then, in September 2020, Eric was alerted by one of his financial advisers that his wife had obtained and spent a $250,000 home-equity line of credit on their Kamas home, withdrawn at least $100,000 from his bank accounts, and spent more than $30,000 on his credit cards. He also discovered that Kouri had taken $134,346 from the masonry business, money Eric had set aside for federal and state quarterly-tax payments.
It must have been a shocking realization for Eric to discover his wife had robbed him blind. When he confronted Kouri about it, she agreed to repay him the total $515,000 dollars she had stolen.
Kouri Richins purchased at least four life-insurance policies on her husband’s life between 2015 and 2017, giving her a total payout of $1,947,000 on his death.
It was around this time that Eric took his family on a trip to Greece. One night, he became violently ill. He called one of his sisters, complaining that Kouri had tried to kill him by spiking his drinks.
“He was poisoned, allegedly,” said the Richins family’s spokesman, Greg Skordas. “It raised his suspicions.”
After the Greece trip, Eric and Kouri’s marriage careened downhill. In October 2020, Eric Richins saw a divorce lawyer, as he suspected Kouri had been having a longtime extramarital affair. He eventually decided to stay in the marriage for the sake of his children. “I think he wanted to keep the nuclear family together,” said Skordas.
According to court records, Eric told two close relatives that he was worried “Kouri would kill him for money and he wanted to make sure the kids were taken care of financially.” So he set up the Eric Richins Living Trust, placing the family home, his interest in the masonry business, and his personal estate, with an estimated value of $3.6 million, as well as his $500,000 life-insurance policy, under the sole control of his sister Katie Richins-Benson.
This was all done unbeknownst to Kouri, who had no idea she was no longer Eric’s beneficiary.
Eric called one of his sisters, complaining that Kouri had tried to kill him by spiking his drinks.
Over the next year, Kouri sank deeper and deeper into debt. She owed a hard-money lender almost $2 million, as well as $190,000 in outstanding federal and state taxes. She also hadn’t paid back the half-million dollars she had stolen from her husband.
Kouri was growing increasingly desperate. Knowing that Eric and Cody Wright, his business partner, each had Buy-Sell life-insurance agreements listing the other as beneficiary, on January 1, 2022, Kouri allegedly logged into Eric’s life-insurance account and made herself the beneficiary of his $2 million policy. (Wright did not respond to AIR MAIL’s request for comment.)
The insurance company immediately alerted Eric to the change, and Wright was restored as the rightful beneficiary. Seemingly undeterred, Kouri then applied for yet another $100,000 life-insurance policy on her husband.
The new policy was issued on February 4. The next day, Kouri contacted a drug dealer to buy fentanyl, the highly potent synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine. She said she needed it for a client with a back injury.
A week later, Kouri drove to the dealer’s home, in nearby Heber City, to collect $900 worth of illegal fentanyl pills.
On Valentine’s Day, Kouri prepared a sandwich for Eric and left it on the seat of his truck, alongside a romantic love note. After just one bite of the sandwich, Eric broke out in hives and couldn’t breathe. In desperation he used his son’s EpiPen and took Benadryl, before passing out for a couple of hours.
“Eric Richins told a friend that he thought his wife was trying to poison him,” stated the charging affidavit, “and if anything happened to him Kouri would be responsible.”
On Valentine’s Day, Kouri prepared a sandwich for Eric and left it on the seat of his truck, alongside a romantic love note. After one bite, Eric couldn’t breathe.
Toward the end of February, Kouri complained to her drug dealer that the fentanyl pills she had bought were too weak and she needed stronger ones, according to the drug dealer’s police statement. She specifically requested “some of the Michael Jackson stuff,” referring to the lethal dose of propofol the King of Pop overdosed on in 2009. Soon afterward Kouri collected the additional drugs, another $900 dollars’ worth of fentanyl, from her dealer.
Meanwhile, Kouri had set her sights on buying and flipping an unfinished, eight-bedroom, 20,000-square-foot mansion in Heber City. The opulent home, described in the sales brochure as an “architectural masterpiece,” contained a butler’s pantry, swimming and therapy pools, a rock-climbing wall, and two kitchens.
Kouri made a $2 million offer on the house, which was accepted, and the sale went into contract. Then Eric decided it was a bad investment and refused to sign the papers.
At 3:22 A.M. on Friday, March 4, 2022, Kouri Richins called 911 saying she had just felt her husband and he was “cold to the touch.” Sheriff’s deputies and first responders arrived to find Eric on the floor at the foot of the bed and tried to resuscitate him without success.
Kouri told the Sheriff’s Office investigators that the night before, they had been at home celebrating the closing on the new house. At around nine that night, Kouri says she mixed Eric a Moscow mule, which he drank in bed. She then left her cell phone charging by her bed to sleep in one of her children’s bedrooms, as he was having a “night terror.” At around three A.M. she returned to their bedroom and discovered Eric dead.
The next day, Kouri triumphantly closed the deal for the Heber City house and threw a big boozy celebration party for friends—while her husband’s body lay in the morgue.
Two days after Eric’s death, Kouri had a locksmith drill open his safe, which contained between $125,000 and $165,000 in cash. According to court papers, when her sister-in-law Katie intervened, saying Kouri didn’t have the authority to open the safe, Kouri punched her in the face and neck. Sheriff’s deputies were called, and Kouri finally learned of the Eric Richins Living Trust, which Katie controlled.
Three days after that, Kouri called her drug dealer once again, and wrote a $1,300 check for more fentanyl. What Kouri planned to do with it is unknown, though it’s possible that she planned to poison some of Eric’s relatives, who would soon hire a private detective to put Kouri under surveillance.
Kouri complained to her drug dealer that the fentanyl pills she had bought were too weak. She specifically requested “some of the Michael Jackson stuff.”
In April 2022, autopsy and toxicology results determined that Eric Richins had died from a fentanyl overdose, finding five times the lethal dosage in his system. Investigators also discovered Kouri’s phone had been locked and unlocked “multiple times,” and a stream of now deleted text messages had been sent and received, in the hours before she dialed 911.
In the wake of her husband’s death, Kouri filed a claim for $3.6 million of Eric’s money, which she maintained she was owed under their pre-nuptial agreement. His sister Katie then filed a petition to contest it, a dispute which has still not been resolved.
On May 8, 2023, one month after her Good Things Utah interview, Kouri Richins was arrested on charges of aggravated murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. That same day, her book was removed from the Amazon Web site.
The Richins family’s spokesman, Greg Skordas, said they were very happy charges had been filed and hopeful that “justice will be served.” He added that Eric and Kouri’s “three children are together and living with a relative. They’re very, very safe.”
Kouri Richins is presently in custody at Summit County Jail in Park City, and has still not entered a plea. Her next court hearing, to determine whether she will be allowed bail given that hers is a potential death-penalty case, is scheduled for June 12.
A family friend said that Kouri’s self-help book and blatant self-promotion in the time leading up to her arrest had been “hell” for Eric’s family. “We don’t know why he stayed [in the marriage] thinking what he did,” said the friend. “You can never get inside someone else’s head or marriage.”
John Glatt is a true-crime writer and the author of several books, including, most recently, Golden Boy: A Murder Among the Manhattan Elite. His new book, Tangled Vines: Power, Privilege, and the Murdaugh Family Murders, will be published on August 8