Kouri Richins: The widow turned children’s author… and accused murderer

Lavinia Thompson

For over a year, 33-year-old Kouri Darden Richins has appeared to be a wife and mother grieving the devastating loss of her husband, and even penned a book to help children struggling with losing a father - but now, she’s been charged with murdering him, according to the arrest warrant.

Kouri faces three charges of second-degree possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and one charge of first-degree aggravated murder for the March 3, 2022 death of her husband, Eric Richins, the warrant says.

Police and EMS responded to the family home at 3:22 a.m. that morning after a call came in about an unresponsive male, the warrant states. They found Eric on the floor at the foot of his bed, and pronounced him dead after life saving measures were attempted.

Kouri allegedly told police that she and Eric were celebrating the closing on a house for her business at about 9 p.m. that night, the warrant says. She claimed she made a Moscow Mule in the kitchen, then brought it to Eric, who drank it while sitting in bed. The couple was at home with only their children.

According to the warrant, Kouri told police she went to bed, then went to sleep with one of the kids, who was having a night terror. She claimed to have woken at about 3 a.m., and upon returning to Eric, found him to be cold to the touch and called 911.

Her story seemed to unravel almost immediately when she told police she left her phone in her bedroom, plugged in, when she went to her child’s room, the warrant says. But within the time she was in her child’s room, police discovered that her phone was unlocked and locked several times and had sent and received messages, which were later deleted.

An autopsy and toxicology test determined Eric’s cause of death to be a fentanyl overdose, the warrant states. The medical examiner found the level of fentanyl in Eric’s body to be “approximately five times the lethal dosage,” and that it was illicit fentanyl, not prescription. With this, investigators obtained a search warrant for the family home to seize all electronic devices.

After downloading the information from those devices, including Kouri’s phone, investigators found messages between her and an acquaintance, named in the arrest warrant as C.L. This person had multiple drug-related charges - and unearthed Kouri’s alleged sinister side in a May 2, 2022 interview with police.

The Dealer

C.L. claimed that “sometime between December 2021 and February 2022,” Kouri sent a text message asking if C.L. could obtain some prescription pain killers for an investor with a back injury, the warrant says. C.L. got a hold of some hydrocodone pills from a dealer within the next few days, and claimed that Kouri told them to leave the pills at a house Kouri was flipping. C.L. left the drugs. Kouri left the cash.

Roughly two weeks passed before C.L. heard from Kouri again. This time Kouri claimed her investor wanted something stronger - “some of the Michael Jackson stuff,” as Kouri allegedly said, according to the warrant. Kouri allegedly asked for fentanyl in specific this time. On February 11, 2022, C.L. got 15-30 fentanyl pills from a dealer and exchanged them for $900 when Kouri stopped by C.L.’s home.

On February 14, 2022, a Valentine’s Day dinner at the Richen home resulted in Eric becoming very ill, according to the warrant, and he believed he had been poisoned. He later told a friend he believed Kouri was trying to poison him somehow.

Kouri apparently wasn’t finished, the warrant alleges. Two weeks later, she once again contacted C.L. to ask for another $900 in fentanyl pills. C.L. provided them on February 26, 2022, leaving the drugs at the outdoor fire pit of the house Kouri was flipping, where the cash awaited C.L.

Six days later, the warrant states, Eric Richins was found dead on his bedroom floor of an overdose from fentanyl.

Kouri and EricPhoto byNew York Post via Facebook

A sister’s suspicions

According to documents obtained by KPCW, Eric made chilling phone call to one of his two sisters while he and Kouri were on vacation in Greece a few years ago. He told his sister that after consuming a drink Kouri had handed him, he fell violently ill. The sister told investigators that she believed his wife was trying to poison him.

Eric and his business partner, Cody Wright, hold a joint life insurance policy, KPCW reveals. Together, they ran C&E Stone Masonry. Kouri went online and tried to change the policy. Instead of the men being each other’s beneficiary, Kouri allegedly made herself Eric’s beneficiary. The men were notified of the change, and they reverted it back.

Eric also changed the beneficiary of his will and his power of attorney to his sister, as it had previously been Kouri, KPCW states. He told his sisters that he didn’t inform Kouri of the change because he feared Kouri might try to “kill him for the money,” and wished to secure his sons’ financial future.

According to warrants, KPCW says, Eric planned on filing for a divorce from Kouri, but this was preceded by his death.

Kouri didn’t discover the change in the will until March 5 at a family gathering following Eric’s death, KPCW reports.

Eric and Kouri disagreed on the $2 million home she wanted to buy and flip, warrants allege, and family members told police Eric was going to tell Kouri they weren’t buying the home. However, Kouri told investigators she and Eric had been celebrating that purchase the night he died.

She closed on the home the day after his death, KPCW says, citing search warrants which add that she later invited friends over to the home for “a large party at her home where she was drinking and celebrating.”

Investigators allege that Kouri assaulted Eric’s sister upon learning of the change in will, KPCW says. On March 28, 2022, Kouri sued Eric’s sister in order to obtain control of the estate once more, citing a prenuptial agreement that would give Kouri access to money and family home.

Eric’s sister makes mention of a pending homicide investigation in her response to the lawsuit, which would invoke a law in Utah called the “Slayer statute” which prevents murderers from profiting off their crimes, KPCW reports. The civil lawsuit won’t likely go forward until the criminal proceeding concludes.

Eric is remembered as a loving family man

Born May 13, 1982, Eric Richins grew up helping his dad work on the family ranch, a passion which remained with him into his adulthood, his obituary explains.

“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,” the obituary says.

He was also involved in various sports growing up, the obituary adds. Eric was involved in cross country, basketball, baseball, and soccer, also serving as coach or assistant coach on all of his sons’ teams.

“Eric truly cared about every single child he coached and wanted the absolute best for all of them,” the obituary says.

He and Kouri had been married for nine years and had three sons, Carter (9), Ashton (7), and Weston (5), the obituary says, describing him as an “attentive and loving father” to the boys, and “a devoted husband” to his wife.

His life as an adventurous, loving family man is summed up in the obituary in one sentence:

“No peaks were too high and the next adventure was always just around the next bend.”

Eric RichinsPhoto byEric's obituary page

Writing children’s books in the aftermath of her husband’s death

Almost a year to the day of Eric’s death, Kouri published her first book, titled “Are You With Me?,” telling local radio station KPCW that she found few resources to help herself and her boys to cope with the unfathomable loss, which is why she wrote the book.

“It's been a long, long year and difficult year. Writing this book has brought a little peace to me, to me and my boys,” Kouri said.

She claimed that the book was based on questions asked by her and Eric’s three sons after Eric’s death, KPCW says.

“‘Is dad with us during birthday parties or Christmas?’ Or you know, ‘Is dad with us?’ Because they're going through the sadness of knowing that it's just, you know, he's not here, presently,” she added.

Kouri also told KPCW that she had no prior experience as an author.

“I'm not a previous author. I am not a child psychologist. I'm not a counselor, right? Like, I am a mom of three kids. And I can only write about what I know and what we’re going through,” she said, also discussing how her kids, especially her 10-year-old son, helped write the book.

“He, you know, helped kind of navigate through the process like, what he was feeling, what his heart, you know, the sadness that he was feeling,” she explained. “But then as we kind of spoke about, you know, though dad is with you, he's not present, but his presence is here in the room. And so that was a sense of comfort to him, that he can just kind of walk through life with now. And if he can do it, like other kids can do it too.”

Her second book was scheduled to be published in May 2022, titled “Mom, How Far Away is Heaven?,” KPCW reports. A quick look on Amazon reveals that Kouri’s first book has already been removed from the site.

Her next court date is May 19, Rolling Stone reports. Utah still upholds the death penalty in offenses that go to trial as capital offenses.

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Long time true crime lover and blogger who has spent years reading and studying criminal psychology. I also write mystery fiction books, and have a diploma in journalism.


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