Harold Henthorn May Have Tried to Kill Wife Before Fatal Hike Marked With "X," Docs Say
Harold and Toni Henthorn during much happier times. Additional photos, plus a video and more below.
UPDATE 2: Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock says that he now believes Harold Henthorn may have murdered his first wife. In 1995, Lynn Henthorn died from injuries supposedly sustained when a car fell on her while she was changing the tire.
Update 1: Last week, bond was rejected for Harold Henthorn, a Highlands Ranch man who's been formally charged with killing his wife, Dr. Toni Henthorn, by pushing her off Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park; see our previous coverage below.
Now, two new documents in the case have been unsealed, and they suggest that Harold may have tried to eliminate Toni once before, in an "accident" of the sort that killed his first wife, as well as implying that the fateful hiking trip was meticulously planned, right down to a map marked with an "X" near where she died. Continue to see those documents, plus additional photos, a video and the troubling details.
U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
A request for order filed by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, who's in charge of prosecuting the case because Rocky Mountain National Park is federal land, states that "on September 29, 2012, Harold Henthorn's wife Toni Henthorn fell to her death with Harold Henthorn as the only witness, in a remote location in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado." Walsh adds that " investigation has revealed there are three $1.5 million life insurance policies on Toni Henthorn, two of which are in trusts, and one in which Harold Henthorn is the sole beneficiary."
This isn't the only circumstance Walsh sees as suspicious. He implies that Harold was living off Toni, a respected ophthalmologist, while conducting a mysterious double life. Here's a key passage:
Harold Henthorn travels frequently, even weekly, allegedly for work. However, there is no indication that he has actual clients. He has no business in his name, no partners able to be located by law enforcement to date, and no one interviewed to date knows who his clients are or were, yet he told investigators he was financially secure, and he was a fundraiser for nonprofits like churches and hospitals. At his wife's funeral witnesses told investigators there were no attendees from Harold Henthorn's work and witnesses interviewed by investigators revealed no one actually knew what his business was called, or any of his projects or clients.
Was Henthorn capable of murder? Walsh floats that possibility by pointing out that "in 1995, Harold Henthorn's prior wife" -- Sandra Lynn Henthorn -- "died from injuries sustained from being crushed by a car while he was changing a tire in a remote location. The car allegedly came off the jack as he was throwing the tire in the trunk, crushing his wife, who was under the car for unknown reasons. There were no witnesses other than Harold Henthorn and a life insurance policy on her had been taken out several months prior."
Sandra's death was initially ruled an accident. However, as CBS4 reports, authorities in Douglas County have now reopened the investigation. Meanwhile, Walsh cites what could have been another attempt by Harold to kill Toni in a way that would have seemed accidental. He writes:
In early September or late August of 2011, a beam hit Toni Henthorn on her head while working on her cabin with Harold Henthorn, fracturing her vertebrae. The beam fell off the porch where Harold Henthorn was working, after he called her to come help him. Toni Henthorn told her mother, "If I hadn't bent down after I walked outside, the beam would have killed me." This is another accident in which Harold Henthorn was the only other witness."
Another photo of the late Toni Henthorn.
More detailed accounts of these episodes are featured in the search warrant, supplemented by tales of other curious incidents. For instance, investigators found "a National Park Service map of Rocky Mountain National Park...which had the Deer Mountain trail highlighted in pink highlighter and an 'X' marked near the location where Toni Henthorn fell to her death," allegedly after slipping while trying to take a photo.
The first time Harold was asked about the map, he's said to have been "at a loss for words."
In addition, one acquaintance said Harold had confided that he had "taken six different hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park, about two weeks before [Toni's death], trying to find the hike to take Toni on their anniversary weekend. Henthorn told her he planned every minute of their trip."
Look below to see a 7News story about the latest developments, followed by the aforementioned documents obtained by the station, plus our previous coverage.
Harold Henthorn and his late wife, Dr. Toni Henthorn, in a 2012 Facebook photo. Additional images, a video and more below.
Update, 4:12 p.m. November 12: Earlier today, we told you about the federal murder charge against Harold Henthorn, who's accused of pushing his wife, Dr. Toni Henthorn, to her death in 2012; see our previous coverage below.
Henthorn appeared in federal court to day to request bond -- but moments ago came official word that his request was denied. He'll remain in custody until his case is resolved. Below, see a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, followed by our original report.
U.S. Attorney's Office release:
HAROLD HENTHORN ORDERED HELD WITHOUT PENDING A RESOLUTION OF HIS CASE
DENVER -- Harold Henthorn, age 58, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was ordered held without bond today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya following a multi-hour detention hearing. Magistrate Judge Tafoya found that Henthorn was both a danger to the community and a risk of flight. Today, also, through his attorney, Henthorn entered a pro-forma not guilty plea.
Henthorn was arrested without incident on November 6, 2014 by Special Agents with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with substantial support from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, following his grand jury indictment on First Degree Murder. According to the indictment, on or about September 29, 2012, in the State and District of Colorado, and within the jurisdiction of the United States, namely the Rocky Mountain National Park, Henthorn willfully, deliberately, maliciously, and with premeditation and malice aforethought did unlawfully kill his wife, Toni Henthorn.
If convicted, Henthorn faces a mandatory term of life in federal prison without the possibility of parole, as well as a fine of up to a $250,000.
The charge in the indictment is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Original post, 8:50 a.m.: Today, Harold Henthorn is scheduled to appear in court to argue that he be released on bond while awaiting trial in the 2012 death of his second wife, Dr. Toni Henthorn. And his previous record is hardly filled with black marks: The only previous arrest was twenty years ago, for allegedly stealing men's underwear. Continue for photos, a video, the indictment naming Harold and more about this tragic story.
There's no shortage of photos showing the Henthorns looking happy together. The one above is the profile photo on Harold's Facebook page, which remains online at this writing, while this one....
...was obtained by CBS4 along with these twin portraits:
The Highlands Ranch residents were parted permanently just over two years ago, when Toni died -- and her obituary doesn't mention the possibility of foul play. It begins:
The photo of Toni Henthorn that accompanies her obituary.
Toni, 50, passed away on Saturday, September 29, 2012 as the result of a tragic accident in the Rocky Mountain State Park. She was born on January 10, 1962 to Bob and Yvonne Bertolet in Jackson, MS. She was a faithful Christian, loving wife and mother, thoughtful daughter and sister, and an incredibly skilled physician. She was married to Harold Henthorn on September 30, 2000, and has one beautiful daughter -- Haley, aged 7.
Likewise, the obituary's description of Henthorn's background gives no hint about tension between her and Harold:
Toni graduated from Trinity High School in 1980 with honors and magna cum laude from the University of Mississippi Medical school in 1988, and has worked for Associates in Eyecare in Denver as a surgical and cosmetic ophthalmologist. She was awarded a place in America's Top Ophthalmologists by the Consumer Research Council in 2006. Toni attended and taught Sunday school at Cherry Hills Community Church. She was an accomplished pianist and had a beautiful voice singing in several church choirs. She shared her faith in Christ through her insightful contributions to GotQuestions.org on a regular basis. Harold, Toni, and Haley also enjoyed golfing, snowshoeing and hiking.
Harold on the links in a photo shared by CBS4.
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Now, however, Toni's dad, Bob Bertolet, tells CBS4 that he and his wife have been waiting for over two years for Harold to face criminal charges for allegedly pushing his wife to her death during an anniversary hike.
Harold told authorities that Toni slipped while taking a photo, causing her to plunge fifty feet down Rocky Mountain National Park's Deer Mountain to her death. But questions arose in part because of the amount of life insurance in Toni's name: 7News cites three policies adding up to $4.5 million, with one claim submitted shortly after she died.
No doubt this issue was a factor in a federal grand jury indictment for first-degree murder made public last week.
Note that the case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office, as opposed to a local jurisdiction, because national parks are federal land.
A CBS4 image from Harold's earlier arrest report.
As for Harold's previous offense, CBS4 reveals that it took place on March 11, 1994; he was arrested for "shoplifting $47.49 worth of 'miscellaneous men's underwear' from a JC Penney store in Littleton."
Obviously, this episode won't be enough for a judge to order that Henthorn remain behind bars -- but Toni's loved ones are hoping bond will be rejected anyhow. They consider him a flight risk.
See their comments and more in the following CBS4 report, followed by the aforementioned murder indictment.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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