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Highlands Ranch Man Under Investigation After Freak Accidents Kill 2 Wives

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Investigator Brian Maass
Harold Henthorn and Toni Henthorn (credit: CBS)

Harold Henthorn and Toni Henthorn (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Local and federal authorities are investigating the deaths of a Highlands Ranch man’s two wives which took place 18 years apart from each other.

The deaths that were initially reported as freak accidents but have now drawn intense interest from investigators with the FBI, National Park Service and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Henthorn refused to comment on the investigations when approached by a CBS4 crew.

“I want to cooperate with you,” said Harold Henthorn, 57. “But I know you spoke with my attorney and ask you to speak to him.”

His lawyer, Craig Truman, told CBS4, “I’m sure when all the facts are known in this difficult and complicated case that justice will be done.”

Truman declined to discuss the ongoing probes of the untimely deaths of Henthorn’s wives. Henthorn has told friends, neighbors and associates he is innocent and has done nothing wrong. He has not been charged with a crime.

Law enforcement interest in Henthorn began in September 2012 after his second wife, Toni, fell off a cliff in Rocky Mountain National Park while hiking with her husband, the only witness to her death.

The couple, who have an 8-year-old daughter together, were hiking in the Deer Mountain area of the national park, although they had left the trail and were in a rocky area. It was their anniversary weekend and they would have marked 13 years of marriage the next day.

Harold Henthorn told investigators his wife was preparing to take a picture when she fell about 50 feet to her death. He told investigators he was looking at his cellphone and did not see precisely what happened. The Sept. 29, 2012, incident was initially labeled an unfortunate accident.

But CBS4 obtained the autopsy report for Toni Henthorn which raised numerous questions about her death. In his autopsy report three months after the incident, forensic pathologist Dr. James Wilkerson of the Larimer County Coroner’s office wrote:

Toni Henthorn, a 50 year old white female, died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries when she fell or was pushed down a cliff while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. The manner of death is undetermined. The circumstances of death are under investigation at the time of this report. Homicide cannot be excluded.

Ellis Armistead, a Denver-based private investigator who served as a homicide investigator with the Lakewood police department and was Chief Investigator with the 14th judicial district, reviewed the autopsy report at the request of CBS4.

“I’ve never seen a conclusion like that, and I’ve reviewed hundreds of autopsy reports,” he said. “I find that an unusual conclusion to an autopsy report.”

The FBI has confirmed it is actively investigating Toni Henthorn’s death.

“It’s ongoing,” said FBI spokesman Dave Joly. “We’re hoping to bring it to a conclusion sooner rather than later. It’s something we’re taking a look at very carefully.”

While Harold Henthorn refused to discuss his wife’s death with CBS4, he has continually proclaimed his innocence to friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Many spoke to CBS4 but asked their names not be used.

One told CBS4 that Henthorn has complained of the ongoing FBI investigation, saying it has caused stress for him and his daughter. He has told those he knows that he loved his wife and would never harm her.

Steve Reynolds, a friend of Harold and Toni Henthorn for the last seven years, described them as a loving, caring couple.

Harold Henthorn and Toni Henthorn (credit: CBS)

Harold Henthorn and Toni Henthorn (credit: CBS)

“He adored her,” said Reynolds, who described the FBI probe as a “witch hunt.”

“The FBI does not have one shred of evidence,” said Reynolds, who said Harold Henthorn is an “innocent person.”

“They do not deserve this. It was a horrible, horrible, terrible accident,” said Reynolds, who said the FBI has “harrassed” Harold Henthorn for the better part of a year.

Toni Henthorn was a well liked ophthalmologist, described by those who knew her as quiet and shy and a strong Christian, active in her Cherry Hills church. At one point, she served as team ophthalmologist for the Colorado Avalanche hockey team. She was originally from Jackson, Mississippi but moved to Colorado after meeting Harold Henthorn.

Toni Henthorn was a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Mississippi medical school and was a surgical and cosmetic ophthalmologist in Colorado. Contacted by CBS4, her family declined to comment citing the ongoing investigation.

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