Since last year, we've been reporting about the murder case against Harold Henthorn, who was accused of killing his wife, Dr. Toni Henthorn, by pushing her off Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park circa 2012.
In the months that followed, the Henthorn story became the subject of a Westword feature and numerous national TV programs, including a 48 Hours investigation, due to the shocking nature of his alleged crime and the suspicion that he'd committed a similar act before. His first wife, Lynn Henthorn, also died under questionable circumstances.
Harold has not yet been tried in Lynn's death. But yesterday, a Douglas County jury found him guilty of first-degree murder regarding Toni's death — a decision that spurred emotional reactions from her relatives, who've been fighting to bring Harold to justice for nearly three years.
As Henthorn was being led away after the verdict, CBS4 reports that Eric Rishell, Lynn Henthorn’s brother, shouted, “Goodbye, Harold.”
Our original post dug into a request for order filed by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, who was placed in charge of prosecuting the case because Rocky Mountain National Park is federal land; see it below. The document stated 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 added that the " 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 wasn't the only circumstance Walsh saw as suspicious. He implied that Harold was living off Toni, a respected ophthalmologist, while conducting a mysterious double life. Here's a key passage from the document:
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 floated 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."
Lynn's death was initially ruled an accident. In 2014, however, authorities in Douglas County reopened the investigation. Meanwhile, Walsh cited what could have been another attempt by Harold to kill Toni in a way that would have seemed accidental. He wrote:
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."
More detailed accounts of these episodes were featured in a search warrant also shared here, which was 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."
This evidence was laid out in painstaking detail during Henthorn's trial — and after just over ten hours of deliberation, the jury in the case sided with the prosecution.
The jurors' conclusion may not be the final word: The investigation into Lynn's death still awaits resolution, and Craig Truman, Henthorn's attorney, hinted at a possible appeal in Harold's conviction of Toni's murder.
For now, though, Toni's loved ones are expressing satisfaction and relief at the latest development, as is U.S. Attorney Walsh, who issued the following statement:
“Today a jury in federal court has spoken — finding Harold Henthorn guilty of the First Degree Murder of his wife, Toni Henthorn. Henthorn, who has been in custody since his arrest, will not again experience life outside a prison cell. Thanks to the hard work of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys Suneeta Hazra and Valeria Spencer, and the federal agents, FBI Special Agent John Grusing and National Park Service Special Agent Beth Shott, the facts of this murder were uncovered and justice was obtained. Toni Henthorn’s family, especially her daughter and the entire Bertolels family, can now rest easier knowing that justice has been done. I also want to recognize the Rishell family, Henthorn’s first wife, who has also experienced great pain. Finally, I would like to thank the jurors for their service. These individuals, who were asked to see graphic photos and listen to difficult testimony, should be recognized for their dedication to justice and their service as citizens of this great state.”
Look below to see the aforementioned CBS4 piece about the trial's end. That's followed by several 48 Hours excerpts. The first features cell-phone video of Harold surprising Toni. That's followed by comments from Toni's niece, who says her beloved aunt's death opened her eyes to Harold's true self. More memories of Toni are spotlighted in the third clip, while the fourth offers a look at the program in its entirety. Finally, see two documents: the request for order and the search warrant.
Our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Toni Henthorn and Lynn Henthorn.
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