Woman Who Wrote Children’s Book On Grief After Losing Husband Is Now Charged With His Death

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Losing a loved one is never easy. No matter if it’s sudden or if it’s been a long time coming, there’s no amount of preparation you can do that will ease the pain of their eventual passing.

This can be even harder for children, as many of them would have yet to understand or experience the full scope of what death is. Thankfully, there are resources out there that can help them cope, reminding them that their loved ones remain with them in their hearts and memories.

It’s worth it to pick those resources carefully though, as the author of a book helping children cope with parental death might have had a little too much information about her husband’s sudden death.

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An Unparalleled Tragedy

Kouri Richins, a 33-year-old mother and widow from Utah, experienced unimaginable tragedy last year when her husband, Erich Richins, suddenly and mysteriously passed away in their home.

A photo of Kouri and Erich together.
NBC News
NBC News

She found him unresponsive in their bedroom, collapsed on the floor at the good of their bed. She immediately called 911, and though they did attempt lifesaving measures, he was already too far gone to be able to save and thus declared dead. He passed on March 4th, 2022.

A Helpful Outlet

This left Kouri alone with their three young sons.

A Richins family photo.
NBC News
NBC News

To help cope with the grief of her loss, she began writing a book that would be published a year later. Titled Are You With Me?, it’s a children’s book meant to “create peace and comfort for children who have lost a loved one” according to its Amazon listing.

Its goal is to reassure children that even though their lost loved one “is not present, their presence always exists and they walk through life with you as if they were here.”

Always Around

The book centers around a young boy whose father passed away. Throughout the book, the boy wonders if his father is still with him spiritually when he’s experiencing sadness or anger, or if he’s still around during special occasions, like his soccer games and his birthday.

The cover of 'Are You With Me?'.

The father is present during all of those moments and more, always at his son’s side.

Kouri dedicated the book to “my amazing husband and a wonderful father.”

Collective Grieving

She did an interview about both her book and her husband’s “unexpected” death on KTVX-TV earlier this year.

Kouri in her interview with Good Things Utah.
NBC News
NBC News

“It took us all by shock,” she said of Erich’s passing. “My kids and I kind of wrote this book on the different emotions and grieving processes that we experienced last year, hoping that it can kind of help other kids deal with this and find happiness some way or another.”

She explained that, like in the book, she tells her children that their “dad is still here, just in a different way.”

The Cause Of Death

However, some further details regarding Erich’s death have unveiled something much darker.

A strip of yellow 'crime scene do not cross' tape.
Pexels / Kat Wilcox
Pexels / Kat Wilcox

Erich didn’t pass away due to some random medical emergency like a heart attack. His cause of death was a fentanyl overdose.

A full autopsy and toxicology report revealed that Erich had five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system at the time of his death. It was also proven to be “illicit” fentanyl, not medical grade, meaning it was almost certainly purchased from an illegal source. They also discovered that the fentanyl was ingested orally.

Uncovering Secrets

The investigation has now turned toward Kouri, as new findings keep stacking up against her.

A photo of Kouri next to a photo of her family's home.
NBC News
NBC News

First are records of text conversations Kouri had with an acquaintance, named C.L., in which she asked for something strong, “some of the Michael Jackson stuff.” Michael Jackson passed away in 2009 after receiving a lethal dose of Propofol.

C.L. apparently came through, providing Kouri with dozens of fentanyl pills. Police did investigate C.L., who has had multiple drug charges already, but they cooperated and told them all that happened with Kouri.

Trial Run

She had apparently first reached out in late 2021 to early 2022 asking for “prescription pain medication for an investor who had a back injury.”

A hand holding a blister pack of pills.
Pexels / cottonbro studio
Pexels / cottonbro studio

“Within a few days, C.L. procured hydrocodone pills from a dealer. Defendant told C.L. to leave the pills at a house defendant was flipping in Midway. C.L. left the pills at the house and the defendant left cash for C.L.,” read the report.

Kouri paid $900 for the pills, acquiring them just before Valentine’s Day.

Immediately Suspicious

This is quite a coincidence considering text messages between Erich and one of his friends revealed that he believed Kouri tried to poison him, as he became strangely ill after a Valentine’s Day dinner the two had.

A photo of Erich in a white cowboy hat.
NBC News
NBC News

“Eric believed that he had been poisoned. Eric told a friend that he thought his wife was trying to poison him,” investigators wrote.

“About two weeks later, defendant contacted C.L. again and said that her investor wanted something stronger and asked for ‘some of the Michael Jackson stuff.’ The defendant asked specifically for fentanyl.”

Dark Celebrations

Days after acquiring another set of pills, Erich was dead.

Kouri in her interview with Good Things Utah.
NBC News
NBC News

The two had actually been celebrating at the time, as Kouri had closed on a home for her business. She made her husband a Moscow Mule in their kitchen, brought it up to their bedroom, then he drank it in bed, according to her statement.

That night, Kouri was sleeping in one of their children’s bedrooms as they had had a nightmare. She woke up around 3 A.M. and walked back to her and Erich’s room to find him dead on the ground.

Remains To Be Seen

Kouri was arrested on charges of aggravated murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. There’s a detention hearing scheduled for May 19th.

Images from Kouri's book 'Are You With Me?'
NBC News
NBC News

Currently, the sheriff’s office has stopped publicly answering questions about the case, as it’s now being handled by the Summit County Attorney’s Office.

“Please keep in mind there are three young children belonging to the decedent and the accused, making this matter very sensitive and difficult,” said county attorney Margaret Olson.

All we can hope for in the wait for answers is that Kouri and Erich’s children are able to find peace and calm in such a scary portion of their lives.

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Daniel Mitchell-Benoit

Dan is a content writer with three years of experience under their belt, having mostly covered viral media but now shifting toward spirituality and astrology. He’s a strong believer in using one’s beliefs as a means of self-improvement and being in touch with whatever messages the universe has to offer.

He can’t wait to share his insights with a[…]