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In March 2023, 33-year-old real estate agent from the American state of Utah, Courtney Richins, released a children’s illustrated book titled “Are You With Me?” The book tells the story of a boy who has lost his father, but still feels his presence in his life. The book includes a dedication – “To my amazing husband and wonderful father.”
According to Courtney, she wrote “Are you with me?” after the sudden death of her 39-year-old husband Eric Richins, with whom they were married for nine years and raised three sons. Eric died last year and, as Courtney said, it shocked the whole family. “I was looking for a story [about coping with loss] to read to the children at night and couldn’t find anything,” she said in April 2023 in the studio of the local ABC4 television channel, where she was invited to talk about the book.
Approximately a month after this interview, Courtney was arrested on charges of killing her husband. An examination found synthetic opioid fentanyl in Eric’s body in a dose five times higher than lethal. According to the examination conclusion, Eric took fentanyl orally, meaning that he swallowed it.
Eric Richins, who was engaged in the construction business, died in March 2022. According to documents submitted to the court, Courtney told the police that on the evening of her husband’s death they were celebrating a successful real estate deal she had been able to make. Around nine in the evening, Courtney, according to her words, prepared a cocktail and took it to her husband in the bedroom, while she herself went to sleep with one of their sons, because he had a nightmare. Around three o’clock in the morning, according to her testimony, Courtney returned to the bedroom, touched her husband and realized that he was cold. She called 911, but the medics who arrived on the call could not save Eric.
Courtney claimed that she had left her mobile phone to charge in the bedroom when she went to her son’s room and did not touch it until she received the 911 call. However, the police, who took the technology from the Richins’ home after Eric’s death, found that during this period of time, Courtney’s phone was repeatedly locked and unlocked: someone was receiving and sending messages from it, which were later deleted.
Further examination of the phone revealed that Kouri was in correspondence with a certain “acquaintance”. His full name is not mentioned, but court documents mention that he has repeatedly been accused of drug-related offenses. Between December 2021 and February 2022, Kouri asked him to obtain a prescription painkiller, explaining that it was for an “investor” who had back pain.
Two weeks later, the woman contacted her “acquaintance” again and asked for “something stronger,” specifying that she meant fentanyl. She received 15 to 30 tablets, paying $900 for them. Three days later, her husband felt unwell during a Valentine’s Day dinner, but it didn’t lead to a fatal outcome at the time. Soon after, Courtney bought more tablets for $900, and six days later, Eric died of a fentanyl overdose.
His relatives told the police that he had long suspected his wife of intending to kill him. According to one of Eric’s two sisters, several years ago he called her from Greece, where he was vacationing with Courtney, and told her that he felt sick after a drink his wife had made for him. After a similar incident during a Valentine’s Day dinner, Eric told his loved ones that Courtney may be trying to poison him.
The family members of the deceased claimed that Eric was planning to get divorced. Shortly before his death, he found out that Courtney was trying to change the terms of his life insurance policy, making herself the sole beneficiary in case of his death. Eric cancelled the changes she had made and, in turn, removed his wife from his will. He did this secretly, and Courtney only found out about it the day after his death.
It is believed that the cause of the murder could have been a real estate deal. According to documents submitted to the court, Courtney wanted to buy an unfinished mansion near the town of Kamas in Utah, where they lived with her husband, and resell it for a higher price. The house cost two million dollars, and Eric believed that this price was too high. According to relatives, he was going to tell Courtney that the deal was off. Meanwhile, she herself told the police that they were celebrating the conclusion of this deal on the evening of his death.
Couri finally bought a house – the day after she became a widow. Soon she put it up for sale at two and a half times the initial price. Before the accusations against Couri Richins became publicly known, a potential buyer managed to find the house.