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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Harold Henthorn found guilty

Harold Henthorn 59 has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his second wife Toni Henthorn 50, a wealthy ophthalmologist in her family's thriving business.  They have a daughter, now nine.

The jury was convinced that Henthorn took his wife to a remote area where help would be a long time coming, and pushed her off a cliff. She had no idea that her husband had arranged to receive 4.5 million dollars in the event of her death.

Henthorn told police he wanted to take his wife on a hike to celebrate their anniversary and they had wandered off the trail.  She stopped to take a photo and fell face-first over the edge.

Prosecutors had no trouble proving it was well planned.  After nine visits to the area, he finally picked the perfect place and marked it with an 'X'.  There would be no witnesses and no chance of help arriving quickly.

The victim's brother Dr Barry Bertolet told the court that on the day Toni died and over the next few days, his brother-in-law told him three different stories.

He said she was walking behind him on the trail and when he went back looking for her, she disappeared over the edge.

The second story was that they were walking together when she slipped and fell off the cliff and the third version was that he was distracted by a text message from their daughter, and when he looked up, she was gone.

First wife Sandra Lyn

Prosecutors claimed he also killed his first wife Sandra Lyn Henthorn. Her autopsy report shows they were fixing a flat tyre by the side of the road and she was looking for a lug nut underneath their Jeep Cherokee when the jack gave way and fell on top of her. She died of her injuries.

A paramedic who responded to the 1995 accident testified that Henthorn didn't seem upset by his wife's death and a shoe print found on the vehicle suggested it might have been pushed.  But when the case was closed and deemed an accident, Henthorn received $500,000 from her life insurance policy.

However, Douglas County investigators have now re-opened the 20 year old case.

Toni Henthorn's wedding ring was a crucial piece of evidence. After the fall, the diamond valued at $30,000 went missing from the ring. Investigators scoured the area but there was no sign of it. But 8 months later, it suddenly reappeared, sitting on top of the dirt, exactly where she had landed.

Prosecutors said that after Henthorn took the diamond, he realized his mistake and took it back.

Toni Henthorn almost died in another accident in 2011 when a 20 ft beam fell on her while the couple were working on their mountain cabin.  It hit her in the head and fractured her vertebra but she survived.

Almost a year later, she had no idea that she wouldn't be coming home from the romantic anniversary adventure her husband had planned for her, hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains National Park.