Kouri Richins has written a picture book to help children deal with the death of a loved one. She is now accused of killing her husband.
SALT LAKE CITY – A children’s book author who prosecutors say killed her husband has been in a fight with her relatives over the family estate since her death last year, court documents show.
Kouri Richins, 33, is accused of poisoning her husband with a lethal dose of fentanyl at their home in a small mountain town near Park City, according to prosecution documents.
The murder charges filed this week come months after Richins posted “Are You With Me?” – an illustrated storybook that tells the story of a boy who wonders how his late father remains a presence in his life.
Prosecutors say Richins called authorities in the middle of the night in March 2022 to report that her husband, Eric Richins, was “cold to the touch.” She told officers she made her husband a mixed drink to celebrate him selling a multimillion-dollar home. She then went to get one of their children to sleep in the next room. When she returned, she found her husband unresponsive and called 911, according to prosecutors.
A coroner later found five times the lethal dose of fentanyl in his system.
In addition to the murder charge, Richins also faces charges relating to alleged possession of GHB, a narcolepsy drug frequently used in recreational settings, including nightclubs.
The allegations are based on the officers’ interactions with Richins that night and an account from an “anonymous acquaintance” who claims he sold her fentanyl. The acquaintance told investigators he sold Richins the opioid hydrocodone once and fentanyl twice, in February and March 2022.
Prosecuting documents say Richins deleted text messages from the night of her husband’s death before handing her phone over to investigators and may have attempted to poison her husband on Valentine’s Day, a month before his death.
“Shortly after dinner, Eric became very ill. … Eric told a friend that he thought his wife was trying to poison him,” the investigators wrote, referring to the Valentine’s Day incident.
Richins’ attorney, Skye Lazaro, declined to comment on the allegations. The Utah Department of Child Protective Services did not respond to questions about the whereabouts of the children while their mother is held without bail.
In Richins’ book, the boy wonders if his father, who is dead, notices his goals in a soccer game, his nerves on the first day of school or the presents he found under the Christmas tree.
“Yes, I’m with you,” replies an angel-winged father figure wearing a trucker hat. “I’m with you when you scored that goal. … I’m with you when you walk the aisles. … I’m here and we’re together.
Months before his arrest, Richins told news outlets that he decided to write “Are you with me?” after her husband died unexpectedly last year, leaving her a widow and raising three children. She said she searched for baby materials about loved ones and found few resources, so she decided to create her own. She had plans to write sequels.
In search warrants obtained by KSL.com and KPCW radio, family members interviewed by investigators indicate that Eric Richins was seeking a divorce from Kouri and had recently changed his will and life insurance policy. One of Richins’ sisters told officials that Eric had long suspected his wife of trying to poison him, including while vacationing in Greece several years ago. The warrants detail the couple’s conflict over a $2 million home Kouri bought with plans to sell it quickly over her husband’s objections based on her price.
Civil court documents that have been filed in several cases since Eric Richins’ death outline how the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death were intertwined with questions about his assets and a property held in a trust and managed by his sister. Richins has been fighting with members of her late husband’s family since the day after her death in March 2022, the documents show.
Richins and her sister-in-law argued the day after Eric’s death at the family home, according to the documents. He later sued for more than $3.6 million and to remove Katie Richins-Benson as her trustee, claiming a prenuptial agreement signed by her and her husband entitled her to her assets if he died before the divorce.
It is unclear how the property dispute will be affected by the murder and drug possession charges against Richins. Utah law prohibits convicted murderers from profiting from their crime.