Colorado resident Harold Henthorn headed to trial this week to answer to first-degree murder charges; he denies pushing his wife, Toni, to her death during a 2012 Rocky Mountain National Park hike celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary. The accused is innocent until proven guilty, but there’s some particularly intriguing evidence against him.
For instance: after Toni fell 140 feet and suffered fatal head injuries so brutal she was “scalped,” police found a map in Harold’s Jeep with an “X” marking the exact spot on the trail where she fell. He ’fessed up to owning the map, but insisted it was not a map he’d used on that particular trip. He also denied drawing the suspiciously-placed “X.”
Harold claimed he’d given his wife mouth-to-mouth to try and revive her, but if he did that, he somehow managed not to smudge her lipstick. He also claimed it took 45 minutes to reach her body from where she fell, but an investigator was able to complete the route in 10 minutes.
He also told conflicting reports as to how his wife managed to fall, the Denver Post reported:
At one point, Henthorn claimed that Toni had gotten behind him and that when he went back on the trail to look for her he saw that she had fallen down a cliff, [Toni’s brother, Dr. Barry Bertolet, testified]. Another version was that they were walking together and she slipped and fell. Another version was that they were taking pictures of him and that he got a text message from their daughter saying that she had won a soccer match and when he looked up Toni was gone, Bertolet said.
And there’s this: Toni, who was an opthamologist, had no idea that her husband, who was unemployed, had taken out multiple life insurance policies on her, worth almost $5 million. He was the sole beneficiary of all the policies.
AND this: Toni had previously suffered a mysterious, nearly fatal accident when a beam fell on her head at the couple’s Great Lake cabin, moments after her husband called for her to come give him a hand.
AND THIS, according to the Daily Mail:
Henthorn was the only witness to his wife’s fatal fall — which prosecutors said was eerily reminiscent of the death of his first wife, Sandra Lynn Henthorn, nee Rishell, who was crushed to death when a car slipped off a jack while they were changing a flat tire in 1995.
Henthorn hasn’t been charged in Sandra Lynn’s death, but police reopened the investigation after a grand jury indicted him on a first-degree murder count in Toni Henthorn’s fatal fall.
‘These deaths were not accidents,’ Assistant US Attorney Suneeta Hazra told jurors Tuesday, adding that Henthorn gave inconsistent accounts of what happened in both cases.
... At the time of his arrest, prosecutors said, Henthorn was living off $1.5 million in assets that were partly from his late wife.
Before Henthorn married Toni, he studied the financial statuses of three women and asked his friends whom he should wed, friends told investigators.
Henthorn’s defense attorney, Craig Truman, had a different take as the trial opened today:
“The government thinks lightning never strikes twice,” he told jurors. “Wait to see the evidence.”
We’ll keep an eye on the court proceedings, as will, no doubt, the Lifetime Network, which is probably furiously grinding out a made-for-TV movie script based on this case this very instant.
Update: On Sept. 21, Harold Henthorn was convicted of first-degree murder in Toni Henthorn’s death, which in Colorado carries a mandatory life sentence. CNN reports that Sandra Lynn Henthorn’s death is still being re-investigated.
Image via the Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook page.