If you’re going to push your wife off a cliff, and try to make it look like an accident, I suggest you not have a map showing the trail you plan to take, with an X marking the spot where you pushed her.
Toni Jill Bertolet Henthorn, 50, was a well-known Ophthalmologist in Denver, who went on an anniversary hike with her husband into the Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park on September 29, 2012, a day before their actual anniversary. She never came home. She was sent to the morgue.
Her husband Harold Henthorn claimed she slipped and fell while taking pictures. When he did reach her 130 feet below, he claimed to have administered CPR which the coroner could find no evidence of when he testified in the 1st degree murder trial of Harold in September, 2015. There were other inconsistencies in Harold’s story. And then you had the map.
It took the jury a few hours of deliberation to convict Harold of 1st degree murder. If I been on the jury, it would have taken about 45 seconds. I would have plopped that map on the table with an X marking where she plummeted to her death, and asked, “Do we really need to discuss this?” The jury recognizing me as astute or something would have immediately elected me foreman, and I would have said, “Are we ready to convict Harold of premeditated?” as I moved to the jury room door to tell the bailiff we had reached a decision. The other jurors, realizing if they didn’t immediately vote guilty there must be something wrong with them, would have filed back into the courtroom, and when the judge polled each juror to ascertain he and she thought he was guilty, I have little doubt in my mind the last juror would have been quite emphatic, “Hell yes he’s guilty.”
There was the matter of $4.5- $4.7 million of insurance money, depending on which story you may be looking at. “Dateline” on NBC had the most definitive story about this murder, and pegged it at $4.7 million. Harold was planning on collecting all of that, but the insurance company refused to pay him while there was suspicion about the case.
The authorities did have some difficulty disputing Harold’s story, because it was he said, and Toni could not say. But somebody sent the investigators a letter about the “freaky” way that Harold’s first wife died 17 years before.
It seems Lynn and Harold in 1995 were on a lonely Colorado mountain road when their Jeep Wagoneer had a flat tire. Harold gets out the bumper jack, which is one of the most dangerous jacks ever invented. He jacked up the car, loosens the lug nuts, which he claimed some of them rolled under the car, and Lynn crawled under there to get them. When I take the lug nuts off of a flat tire, I always put them in the hub cap for later retrieval. If Harold had several lug nuts to roll under the car, he has to be the stupidest tire changer I’ve ever seen in my life.
Nobody in their right mind, and very few insane patients would crawl under a car held up only by a bumper jack. Before there were better jacks, namely the accordion-type jack which is slotted into a metal piece on the side of the car, and does not need to be jacked as high, there was only the bumper jack. I know on at least three or four occasions when I had a flat and had to use a bumper jack, even though I had the jack on flat ground, it would slide to the side as I took the flat tire off, and I would have to jack it up again to put the spare on.
There was the impression of a footprint on the fender of the car on the side where the jack was when Lynn died. Nobody checked to see if that was Harold’s footprint, which would have been a very convenient way for him to shove the car over on top of Lynn while she was lying under the car “retrieving the lug nuts” as Harold alleged. More than likely she had been incapacitated in some manner, and placed under the car by Harold.
Harold claimed he threw the spare tire in the back of the Wagoneer before he lowered the bumper jack, and the car fell on Lynn.
Any nitwit knows you don’t throw the flat tire in the trunk before you are totally finished with the bumper jack, and you are going to put both the bumper jack and flat tire in the trunk at the same time.
The coroner in Lynn’s case signed the death certificate for Toni 17 years later, when she (I’m fairly certain it was a woman coroner) marked that box on Lynn’s death certificate that the death was an accident. That coroner had probably never changed a flat tire in her life, although there was a picture of the Wagoneer jacked up on the bumper jack in a very precarious position that if common sense had descended on the coroner she would have moved over and down one box to check death undetermined.
With the coroner’s finding of an accidental death for Lynn, that slammed the brakes on any further investigation. No prosecutor in the world is going into court to try and convict anybody of murder when the coroner has said it was an accident.
Do I blame the coroner for Toni’s death 17 years later? Hell yes I blame the coroner. Just on the evidence alone that I have presented here, and nothing more, I could have obtained a conviction of Harold for Lynn’s death. Harold would have been rotting away in prison for 1st degree, and he would have never found Toni on that Christian dating site on the Internet.
The prosecution in Toni’s case presented some very gruesome pictures in Harold’s trial to prove the brutality of the crime to the jury. It was quite unpleasant to Toni’s family, but I have seen too many stupid jurors (not normally the whole jury) who get in the jury deliberation room, and take off on some tangent totally irrelevant to the case at hand. With those graphic photos (and I do mean graphic) it would be difficult not to convict. You can go to another site and find them for yourselves, if you are so inclined.
Toni and Harold had a daughter Haley who was 7 at the time of Toni’s death. Harold swore he would fight to retain custody even though he was in jail awaiting trial for murdering Toni. Fortunately when Harold was convicted of the murder of Toni that paved the way for one of Haley’s two uncles, both of whom live in Mississippi, Toni’s origin, to be specified as her guardian. The insurance money ($4.7 million) was placed in trust for Haley, and will be monitored by the court on a regular basis.
How simple it would have been in the beginning for Toni to hire a private investigator to find out Harold was lying about what he did for a living, and Toni would have never been entangled in the web that Harold wove. Did love have anything to do with her trust? I don’t know. But with her medical specialty being ophthalmology, you’d think she would have taken a long, probing 20/20 look at the situation.