Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / March 20, 2023
(Aurora, Colo.) An Aurora dentist was arrested Sunday for murder after his wife was hospitalized for poisoning and died.
James Toliver Craig, 45, was arrested early Sunday morning by the Aurora Police Department’s Major Crimes Homicide unit on a charge of first-degree murder. He is being held with no bond.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office issued a social media statement Sunday night, noting that the office's official charges have not yet been filed. Craig was scheduled to appear in Arapahoe County District court at 9 a.m. March 20.
At 8:45 p.m., March 15, James met his wife Angela, 43, at a local hospital, where her brother accompanied her. According to the arrest affidavit, this was the last in a series of hospital visits that began on March 6, when she reported feeling dizzy and weak.
On March 15, Angela again complained of severe headaches and dizziness and her condition deteriorated rapidly after arriving at the hospital. She was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit, and declared medically brain dead shortly after that.
According to the arrest affidavit, James texted the wife of a friend, informing her about Angela’s hospitalization. The couple allegedly went to the hospital and told staff they were suspicious Angela was poisoned. The husband, who was also a dentist and was covering James’s case load at Summerbrook Dental Group, told staff James had recently ordered potassium cyanide for the dental practice. There was no medical reason for the drug in dentistry.
The nurse, a mandated reporter, called Aurora police and the Major Crimes Homicide unit detectives began an investigation. They interviewed James’s colleague and learned the Craigs had been having marital issues, and that the colleague had taken over James’s practice recently due to financial struggles that began in 2021.
The colleague told police James at first wouldn’t say why he had bought potassium cyanide, but then claimed Angela asked him to order it as she did not have proper credentials.
According to the arrest affidavit, James told his colleague he didn’t believe Angela “would actually take it” and described it as similar to a game of chicken.
On March 15, James allegedly texted his colleague and asked him to not talk about the matter with anyone, including law enforcement.
“Angela is gone and I am devastated,” James allegedly wrote in a text message shown in the arrest affidavit. “There is nothing that can bring her back and I want desperately to tell you all Of the details so that you can better understand what’s gone on behind the scenes with her.
“There is so, so much that you don’t know that I wish you did,” the text continued. “If you knew everything this would make so much sense to you but there’s no use in telling you right now.”
James went on in the text to explain how he had taken his children to say goodbye to Angela, and how they spent the night at the home of a ward member.
“Family is starting to come in to town today and I have to tell them they can’t come to my house and try to explain why,” James wrote. “I have to hire a homicide attorney to make sure I don’t end up being painted in the light that you know some hungry DA is anxious to paint me in because I am most likely going to be charged even though that is absolutely NOT what happened.”
Officers obtained a search warrant for James’s home, laptop and cellphone, as well as Angela’s cellphone. They found searches dating from Feb. 27 on his google account of “how many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human” and “is arsenic detectable in autopsy?” They also found a receipt for arsenic delivered to James’s address.
According to the arrest affidavit, detectives found that James had provided varied statements to many audiences, and had said Angela was suicidal and he had saved her many times but never reported it. Detectives also alleged James was communicating sexually with another woman, who he appeared to be flying into Denver while his wife was dying in the hospital.
Due to this evidence the detectives sought to charge James with Angela’s murder.
Detectives obtained a first-degree murder warrant early Sunday morning, shortly after doctors decided to take the victim off life support.
Craig was recognized by Continental Who's Who as a “Trusted Dentist,” citing his leadership, commitment and professional excellence as Summerbrook Dental Group’s president in November 2021. Craig and his wife had six children together.
“When the suspicious details of this case came to light, our team of officers and homicide detectives tirelessly worked to uncover the truth behind the victim’s sudden illness and death,” said Division Chief Mark Hildebrand.
“It was quickly discovered this was in fact a heinous, complex and calculated murder. I am very proud of our Major Crimes Homicide Unit’s hard work in solving this case and pursuing justice for the victim.”
The investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone with information can contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
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