Who Is Kouri Richens, The Children's Author Accused Of Murder?

After a 2022 Valentine's Day dinner with his wife, Utah resident Eric Richins fell ill. According to his friends, Eric, who was 39, told them he thought his wife, Kouri, had tried to poison him (via The New York Times). Less than a week later, Eric died in his home from a fentanyl overdose. About a year after her husband died, Kouri, who was 33 at the time, published "Are You With Me?," a children's book dealing with grief, specifically young sons mourning the loss of a father.

In an ironic twist, Kouri was arrested in May 2023 for aggravated murder, charged with administering a lethal dose of fentanyl to her husband and possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute (GHB, a narcolepsy drug, sometimes used recreationally). Eric and Kouri were married for nine years and had three sons together.

A short time before her arrest, in an appearance on Utah ABC-affiliate lifestyle program, "Good Things Utah," Kouri offered three tips to address grief in children: connection, continuity, and care. "Keep the person's spirit alive who has passed," she said. In light of her personal tragedy, Kouri had recently faced the same challenges, according to promotional materials related to her book's publishing. If you're looking to find a copy for yourself though, the book was removed from Amazon after her arrest.

Richins said she was asleep when her husband died

On the night that Eric died, Kouri fixed him a cocktail before putting their three young sons to bed. Eric, a real estate agent, had closed a sale and the couple was celebrating. When Kouri woke up in her childrens' bedroom around 3 a.m., she returned to her own bedroom, where she found her husband cold to the touch.

At that point, Kouri called 911 and after life-saving measures were administered, Eric, who was found on the floor at the foot of his bed, was pronounced dead on the scene. According to the medical examiner's reports, he had roughly five times a lethal dose of fentanyl in his system (via CNN). In an autopsy, it was later determined the fentanyl had been ingested orally and the substance was illicit (not medical grade).

According to what Kouri told investigators, her phone was in her own bedroom at the time her husband died. As part of the investigation into her husband's death, however, on the night Eric died, her phone was active several times in that same time period. Many messages were sent, received, and later deleted. 

As investigators dug deeper into Kouri's phone activity as well as several home computers seized through a search warrant, further evidence emerged that her husband's apparent overdose was not what it seemed. Kouri had repeatedly contacted someone known only as C.L. who had several drug charges on his record.

First pain medication, then fentanyl

Kouri Richins first reached out to C.L. a short time before the 2022 Valentine's dinner. According to what C.L. told investigators, at that time she said she needed pain medication for someone she knew with a back problem. Only a matter of weeks after that, before Valentine's Day 2022, Kouri contacted C.L. again, this time for something stronger. "Some of the Michael Jackson stuff," Kouri asked him, C.L. said. 

Based on that request, he sold her fentanyl. One further contact between Kouri and C.L. came a few weeks later when she asked him for a still larger quantity of the deadly substance. He delivered, and only about a week after that, Eric died.

In that promotional appearance for her children's book on grief on ABC 4, she said, "My kids and I wrote this book on the different emotions and grieving process that we've experienced in the last year, hoping it could help other kids deal with this and kind of find happiness someway or another. It's comforting for them that they're not living this life alone. Dad is still here, but in a different way," she said.