“Kouri Richins –– A Deadly Twist”
By Silvia Pettem
In 1944, the popular film “Arsenic and Old Lace” featured two elderly sisters who entertained male visitors by serving them elderberry wine with a twist –– arsenic and strychnine, along with a pinch of cyanide. The sisters promised “peace” to their victims. Critics called the movie a “screwball comedy.”
Now, 79 years later, we delve into a real-life case that echoes the plot of an old movie but without the humor. Meet Kouri Richins, a mother from Utah whose story is far from a laughing matter.
Both the fictional and real murders involve spiked drinks, but the motives behind them differ greatly. Kouri’s alleged actions bear a striking resemblance to those of the infamous “Black Widows” in California back in 2008. In that case, two elderly women convinced homeless men to sign life insurance policies, naming the women as beneficiaries. When the men met their unfortunate end in unresolved hit-and-run accidents, the women collected millions before justice caught up with them.
Now, the tables have turned, and Kouri finds herself behind bars, her dreams of becoming a wealthy widow shattered.
The story unfolds on March 4, 2022, when Kouri, a 33-year-old wife and mother of three, allegedly gave her 39-year-old husband, Eric, a Moscow mule –– a cocktail with vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, and a slice of lime, garnished with mint. Little did Eric know that his drink would seal his fate. Kouri left a chilling trace on her phone with searches like “What is a lethal dose of fentanyl?” before calling the police.
The autopsy revealed that Eric had died of a fentanyl overdose, with a lethal dose five times the norm in his system. Strangely, he was not known to be a drug user.
Eric’s death occurred amidst Kouri’s attempt to change her husband’s life insurance, making herself the sole beneficiary. However, Eric had taken steps to safeguard his finances, entrusting them to family members with a clear directive: suspect Kouri if anything untoward happened to him.
In the months following Eric’s death, Kouri authored a book titled “Are You With Me?” claiming it was meant to bring peace and comfort to her children. Yet, the promise of “peace” in her book appears as illogical as the presumed “peace” of the victims in “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Eric’s family grew suspicious and hired a private investigator to delve into the circumstances of his death. A month after a television interview to promote her new children’s book, Kouri found herself under arrest, facing three drug charges and the most serious charge of all –– aggravated murder. If found guilty, she could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Kouri, denied bail due to allegations of witness tampering, now sits in the Summit County Jail in Park City, Utah, awaiting trial. The mystery surrounding Eric’s death is far from solved, and the suspense continues to mount.