Man Claims Dead Wife 'Fell' Off Cliff, but There's One Tiny Problem With His Story

It looks like one man's perfect crime might not be quite so perfect after all. After his wife fell to her death in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park in 2012, Harold Henthorn claimed that it had been an accident -- but there are a few holes in his story that have led his arrest and trial for her murder.


A ranger testified in court this week that while Toni Henthorn was wearing her wedding ring when she fell, the diamond was missing. Ranger Paul Larson said the stone could not be found in the craggy area where her body was found, and Harold's answers about what happened to it were pretty sketch.

Investigators believe that Henthorn may have removed the diamond from the setting, as her hand was not badly injured in the fall. Deputy Coroner Jere Gunderson said he was suspicious that Henthorn offered up info on the missing diamond, valuing it at about $30,000 but saying "the missing stone did not matter at all at this point."

Maybe it didn't matter much to him because he already had it tucked away somewhere? Even if it did fall out on its own, there's the little matter of the $4.7 million in life insurances policies he had taken out on his wife that she never even knew about.

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Larson said that Henthorn told them that he had been taking a scenic hike with his wife to celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary on September 29, 2012, when she lost her footing and plummeted 130 feet off a rocky ledge.

Although he claimed to have tried to revive her, Coroner James Wilkerson testified that he found no evidence Henthorn performed CPR on his wife. Wilkerson also mentioned that she was not an avid hiker, and likely hadn't gone willingly on such a dangerous trek. The autopsy revealed that Toni died from serious brain and chest injuries, as well as blood loss, but they were unable to conclude if she was pushed or fell.

Prosecutors argued that the murder was planned, and that he had scouted the trail nine times before their anniversary hike. Henthorn said that his wife (an independently wealthy ophthalmologist) paused to take a picture, but stumbled and fell over the edge. However, the camera was barely damaged in a fall that should have smashed it.

And just in case all those details aren't fishy enough ... Henthorn's first wife, Sandra Lynn Henthorn, died in a freak accident just after their 12th anniversary in 1995. She was crushed under a car when it slipped off the jack while they were changing a tire.

The widower was not charged in that death, but police have reopened the case. "The government thinks lightning never strikes twice," Henthorn's defense attorney Craig L. Truman said. "Wait to see the evidence."


Image via © Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures/Corbis

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