Mother who wrote a children’s book on coping with loss just charged with husband’s murder

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published May 10, 2023 at 04:13 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

A mother of three from Utah who wrote a children’s book on how to cope with sadness and grief shortly after her husband passed away on 4 March 2022, is now being accused of injecting him with a deadly amount of fentanyl, court documents show.

Kouri Richins was living every parent’s worst nightmare—coping with the loss of a loved one while trying to shield her own children from the same heartache. So, in an effort to help alleviate some of the pain, Richins wrote Are You With Me, a short book that she could read to her grieving children each night.

Her husband, Eric, was found dead at their home in Kamas. At the time, Richins claimed she had found him dead and “cold to the touch” after making him a Moscow mule to celebrate him selling a house and leaving for a moment to check on one of their children.

However, in a shocking turn of events that no one could’ve expected, Richins was arrested at her home on Monday 8 May 2023 and charged with aggravated murder as well as three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Eric had five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his body when he died, investigators have revealed.

What’s worse is that two months before the arrest, Richins had been featured on a local TV segment Good Things Utah to promote her book and speak in detail about how harrowing the loss of her husband had been on the family. The mother stated: “It’s, you know, explaining to my kid just because he’s not present here with us physically, doesn’t mean his presence isn’t here with us.”

Richins had also been promoting her new book on her social media channels, urging her followers to purchase it. Are You With Me had received very favourable reviews on Amazon, with comments applauding the heartwarming tale and the kid-friendly graphics that were included.

“It completely took us all by shock,” she added during her appearance on Good Things Utah. “We have three little boys, ten, nine and six, and my kids and I kind of wrote this book on the different emotions and grieving processes that we’ve experienced in the last year. I went on Amazon and Barnes and Noble to try to find something to help us cope at night—nights are the hardest. I couldn’t find anything that suited them, so I was like ‘let’s just write one’.”

Richins’ web of lies began to unravel following the investigation’s toxicological findings, which led detectives to secure a search order for her home, including the accused’s mobile phone. According to the charging document, Richins’ phone check also turned up “several communications” with an acquaintance who had prior drug charges.

Here’s where the story becomes even eerier than the psychological thriller Gone Girl. This incident hadn’t been the first time Eric had experienced a less-than-pleasant reaction to something his wife had made for him to eat or drink. A few years ago, while vacationing in Greece, Eric privately told his sister that Richins fixed him a drink which made him incredibly ill.

And then, on Valentine’s Day in 2022, less than a month before he died, Eric experienced a very severe allergic reaction to a meal his wife had made him. According to reports, Eric broke into hives, unable to breathe, and had to use an EpiPen to alleviate his symptoms. Six days later, the father of three was found dead of a fentanyl overdose.

In Richins’ book, the boy wonders if his father, who has passed away recently, notices his goals at a football game, his worries on the first day of school or the presents he found under a Christmas tree. “Yes, I am with you,” an angelic wing-clad father figure wearing a trucker hat responds to the little boy. “I am with you when you scored that goal. […] I am with you when you walk the halls. […] I’m here and we’re together.”

As for her motives, warrants obtained by investigators on the case allege that the couple had argued over purchasing a $2 million home that Richins wanted to remodel but Eric thought was too expensive. In January 2022, she tried to change a life insurance policy that her husband had with his business partner, Cody Wright, who helped him run a stone masonry business.

All in all, this case has all the elements needed for a spine-chilling thriller movie adaption, complete with a grieving mother, an insane amount of deadly substance, and a tangled web of deceit…

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