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Investigators Believe Kouri Richins’ Mom May Have Helped Grief Author Kill Husband

Kouri Richins’s lawyer, Skye Lazaro, called the allegations connecting Kouri’s mother, Lisa Darden, to the murder of Kouri’s husband "a baseless conspiracy theory"

<p>AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, ABC News/Youtube</p> Kouri Richins (L) and her mother, Lisa Darden (R)

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, ABC News/Youtube

Kouri Richins (L) and her mother, Lisa Darden (R)

Kouri Richins, the children’s book author who famously wrote a book on grief about the sudden death of her husband — and then was accused of fatally poisoning him — may not be the first woman in her family to allegedly off a romantic partner, investigators believe.

In an affidavit for a search warrant recently unsealed and obtained by PEOPLE, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office in Utah alleges a possible connection between the 2006 overdose death of Kouri’s mother’s former partner and that of Kouri’s husband in 2022.

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Whether crime or coincidence, Detective Jeff H. O’Driscoll suggests the earlier death could have provided Kouri with a roadmap to murder.

Kouri Richins/Facebook Kouri and Eric Richins
Kouri Richins/Facebook Kouri and Eric Richins

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Of Kouri’s mother, Lisa Darden, the detective claims: “It is possible she was involved in planning and orchestrating Eric’s death.”

Around 9 p.m. March 3, 2022, Kouri and Eric were celebrating Kouri’s real estate business deal alongside Kouri’s mother, Lisa Darden, according to the detective, who said: “Kouri stated they had a drink to celebrate.”

On May 8, 2023, the Utah soccer mom, whose book about her husband's death had recently been published, was arrested and accused of killing Eric.

Shortly after publishing the children's book on grief titled, "Are You With Me?" Kouri Richins was arrested May 8, 2023, in connection with her husband's death a year prior
Shortly after publishing the children's book on grief titled, "Are You With Me?" Kouri Richins was arrested May 8, 2023, in connection with her husband's death a year prior

Related: Children's Author Accused of Poisoning Husband with Fentanyl – Her Side of the Story: 'A Lot Will Come Out at Trial' (Exclusive)

Prosecutors allege Kouri was some $2 million in debt when, believing she would be the benefactor of insurance policies she’d taken out on her husband totaling about the same sum, she laced his celebratory cocktail with five times the amount of lethal fentanyl, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE. (Eric’s cocktail glass was never tested for drugs, the lead investigator testified at a pretrial hearing.)

In the affidavit, O’Driscoll alleges that Kouri’s mother’s history with the death of a romantic partner invites the possibility that she may have been involved with Eric's death.

“In investigating Kouri Richins’s associates, it was discovered that in 2006, Richins’s mother, Lisa Darden was living with an adult female with whom she was having a romantic relationship,” O’Driscoll alleges in the affidavit.

That woman – who is not named in the affidavit – also “died unexpectedly,” per the affidavit.

<p>ABC News/Youtube</p> Kouri Richins's mother, Lisa Darden

ABC News/Youtube

Kouri Richins's mother, Lisa Darden

Related: Children's Book Author Accused of Killing Husband Now Accused of Witness Tampering in Jail

The woman’s autopsy revealed “a drug poisoning from an overdose of oxycodone,” according to the detective, who continues: “Further investigation showed that Lisa Darden had been named as the beneficiary of her partner’s estate a short time before her death.”

The woman had “reportedly struggled with abusing her meds” and had a “current prescription for oxycodone,” per the detective, who then notes: “She, however, was not in a state of recovery from addiction at the time of her death. Based on my training and experience, this would likely rule out the possibility of an accidental overdose.”

In previous interviews with Kouri’s family members and close friends, those closest to her have told PEOPLE that Kouri – who has always maintained her innocence – is being set up by the county sheriff’s office and that she was too in love with her husband to ever kill him.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Kouri’s lawyer, Skye Lazaro called the latest accusations “a baseless conspiracy theory.”

<p>Rick Bowmer/AP</p> Kouri Richins with her lawyer, Skye Lazaro, during a bail hearing Monday, June 12, 2023, in Park City, Utah.

Rick Bowmer/AP

Kouri Richins with her lawyer, Skye Lazaro, during a bail hearing Monday, June 12, 2023, in Park City, Utah.

Related: Kouri Richins Claims Alleged Witness Tampering Letter Found in Jail Cell Was Actually Excerpt from Novel

“The fact that Ms. Darden's significant other was one of the millions that suffered from, and ultimately succumbed to, opioid addiction is hardly ‘suspicious,’” Lazaro said. “It’s tragic and unfortunately, quite common.”

Lazaro similarly dismissed the speculation surrounding the partner's insurance policy.

Related: How Sisters of Utah Father Allegedly Poisoned By His Wife Pushed Investigation Forward: ‘Not Giving Up’ (Exclusive)

“The fact that Ms. Darden was the beneficiary of her romantic partner’s life insurance policy is also not unique,” she said. “It only demonstrates that her circumstances are no different than most families in America. To suggest otherwise is nothing more than a baseless conspiracy theory.”

PEOPLE contacted Darden and other close family members of Kouri and her mother. Darden did not respond by publication time. One family member declined comment, citing the ongoing gag order in Kouri’s murder case. (In February, family members, including Lisa, spoke extensively about the case on 48 Hours.)

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Read the original article on People.