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Summit County mom arrested for husband's murder

The Kamas mother who wrote a book with her children to help them deal with the grief over losing their father is now facing charges for his murder.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kouri D. Richins Monday for the murder of her husband, Eric Richins.

The 33-year-old is charged with one first-degree felony count of aggravated murder, as well as three second-degree felony counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Eric Richins died of a fentanyl overdose on March 4, 2022, according to a police search warrant.

The Richins family is one of the oldest and largest in Summit County. A notable member was Sheldon Richins, for whom Summit County’s Richins Building in Kimball Junction is named.

Kouri told sheriff’s deputies she and her husband were having a celebration together the night of March 3. She said Eric had consumed a shot of alcohol and a THC gummy.

Kouri said she went to bed in their kids’ room that night and rejoined Eric around 3 a.m. When she felt he was cold and realized he wasn’t breathing, she called 911.

Eric Richins and Kouri Richins
Eric Richins and Kouri Richins

But Eric’s family members told investigators shortly after his death they suspected Kouri killed him. According to warrants, “he warned them that if anything happened to him, she was to blame.”

Kouri claimed to have performed CPR on Eric, but fire and EMS first responders said that was unlikely, citing blood coming from his mouth.

During CPR, when responders asked where Eric’s medications were, warrants state she claimed not to know because “the maid just puts medications in random places.”

Kouri claimed her husband had a pain pill addiction in high school but no substance abuse issues since.

Friends and family told police they did not notice any behavior indicative of drug use, and no pain killers were found in the family home.

Suspicious circumstances

The search warrants obtained by investigators detail the suspicious circumstances leading up to the death.

One of Eric’s two sisters told investigators he had called her a few years ago from Greece. While he and Kouri were on vacation, a drink she handed him made him violently ill.

The sister alleged Eric believed Kouri had tried to kill him.

Eric holds a joint life insurance policy with his business partner Cody Wright. The two men ran the business C&E Stone Masonry.

A warrant states Kouri logged into the two men’s life insurance policy in January 2022 and changed the policy. She removed them as each other’s beneficiary and named herself as the policy’s only beneficiary.

When the insurance company notified the men of the change, they were able to change it back.

Court filings say on Valentine’s Day in 2022, Eric suffered an allergic reaction after eating a sandwich Kouri gave him, along with a love note. He broke out in hives, couldn’t breathe and passed out after using his son’s EpiPen and taking Benadryl.

When Eric woke up, he called Wright to let him know what had happened.

Court filings say Kouri had purchased $900 of fentanyl pills from an acquaintance a few days before their dinner. Two weeks later, she asked for $900 more, and shortly after that, Eric had died of an overdose.

Before his death, Eric changed the beneficiary of his will and his power of attorney, replacing Kouri with his sister.

A warrant states he didn’t tell Kouri about the change because, according to his sisters, he believed Kouri might “kill him for the money” and wanted their kids to be financially secure.

Warrants allege he was planning to file for divorce, but he died before any proceedings began.

Estate in dispute

Warrants say Kouri learned she had been cut out of the will during a gathering at the family home on March 5, a day after Eric’s death.

The couple had disagreed about a $2 million home that Kouri, a realtor, wanted to purchase. Warrants state she wanted to “flip” it but Eric thought it was too expensive.

Family members told the police Eric was going to tell Kouri they weren’t buying the home. But it was that very purchase Kouri herself told investigators the couple was celebrating the night he died.

Kouri closed on the home the day after Eric’s death. Later she invited friends over for what a search warrant called “a large party at her home where she was drinking and celebrating.”

The warrant goes on to say she “assaulted” Eric's sister, who showed up to the home.

“Up until that point, according to the family, Kouri had no idea she had been replaced in the will and Eric’s sister was put in charge of his estate, including the home, which made her financially unstable,” the warrant states.

On March 28, a few weeks after Eric’s death, Kouri sued Eric's sister for control over his estate. She claims their prenuptial agreement entitles her to the money, family home and other assets.

Eric's sister’s response to Kouri’s lawsuit mentions a pending homicide case. It remains to be seen how a criminal case will affect the civil proceedings, but Utah does have a so-called Slayer statute, which prevents killers from profiting from their crimes.

"Are you with me?"

Almost a year to the day after Eric’s death, on March 7, Kouri published a children’s book entitled “Are you with me?”

She reached out to KPCW a few weeks afterward to set up an interview promoting the book, which she said “is designed to offer comfort and solace to young minds.”

It renders Eric with angel wings and a halo watching over their youngest child while they grow up.

She told KPCW in April that “Are you with me?” was inspired by her own kids’ questions.

Kouri Richins, a Kamas mother of three, is pictured in the KPCW studios in April 2023, after an interview about a children's book she wrote about grief. Less than a month later, she was arrested for her husband's death.
Kouri Richins was on KPCW's The Local News Hour April 12th to discuss the book she wrote to help her sons deal with the loss of their father. Richins was charged on May 8 with her husband's murder.

“You know, ‘Is dad with us?’” she said. “Because they're going through the sadness of knowing that he's not here, presently.”

During the interview, she disclosed plans to publish sequels. The next title in the works was “Mom, how far away is heaven?” as well as a book for young girls struggling with grief and husbands who lost their wives.

On Friday, Kouri posted a reel of photos of her and Eric to Facebook.

“Life is just so damn hard without you here! The cards I have been dealt just seem like a game that cant [sic] be played,” the caption read.

Kouri Richins is facing state felony charges in 3rd District Court and being held without bond. Judge Richard Mrazik has scheduled a detention hearing for May 19.

It will help the judge decide whether Kouri should be held in jail while her case is pending before the court.

Updated: May 8, 2023 at 5:59 PM MDT
This report was updated to include charging documents.
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