HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – The family of a Highlands Ranch ophthalmologist is casting doubt on her husband’s explanation of how the 50-year-old woman died in a fall from a cliff in September 2012.
“Nobody has that much bad luck,” said Dr. Toni Henthorn’s brother, Todd Bertolet, in his family’s first interview regarding his sister’s mysterious death.
The well-liked eye doctor fell to her death on Sept. 29, 2012, the day before her 12th wedding anniversary, as she hiked with her husband, Harold Henthorn, 57, along Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Harold Henthorn told investigators his wife slipped and fell about 50 feet during the hike, but the Larimer County Coroner’s Office isn’t certain her death was an accident, according to an autopsy report obtained by CBS4.
“The manner of death is undetermined,” wrote the forensic pathologist who conducted the Henthorn autopsy. “Toni Henthorn … 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. Homicide cannot be excluded.”
The FBI has confirmed to CBS4 that it is investigating Toni Henthorn’s death. Agents have crisscrossed the country conducting interviews about Harold and Toni Henthorn, trying to ascertain precisely what happened. Fourteen months after her death, that investigation is ongoing.
In an exclusive interview with CBS4, Toni Henthorn’s brother, sister-in-law and parents said Harold Henthorn’s account of what happened does not add up, and they revealed Toni Henthorn was badly hurt in another accident involving her husband about a year before her death.
“I just felt immediately he was responsible,” said Bertolet.
“I took it immediately as him doing this. He had a hand in my sister’s death, no doubt in my mind,” said the grieving brother.
CBS4 has made contact twice with Harold Henthorn seeking answers about what happened on Deer Mountain. He has declined to answer questions and referred inquiries to his attorney, Craig Truman, who has also declined to discuss the case.
Harold Henthorn has told some friends and neighbors he loved his wife and was not responsible for her death. The couple had a daughter who is now 8 and lives with her father. Harold Henthorn has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
Bertolet explained that since his sister’s passing, he and his family have discovered a series of lies and shifting stories they say Harold Henthorn has told over the years. Among them, they say Harold Henthorn represented himself as a wealthy businessman who was gainfully employed, raising money for charities and nonprofit groups.
Year after year, they say Henthorn wrote annual letters recounting the success of his various companies. They now say Henthorn has since admitted he hasn’t worked in years. CBS4 has been unable to find evidence the companies existed that Henthorn said he worked for.
“The trophy of the family was tarnished by a loser who doesn’t pull his weight, has no job, is not a good person and is a liar. That’s not what my parents had envisioned for their daughter,” said Bertolet.
He said the families suspicions grew when they learned the truth about how Harold Henthorn’s first wife died in 1995.
The CBS4 Investigation reported that in that case, Harold Henthorn and his then-wife Lynn were on a desolate road in Douglas County, late at night when Harold Henthorn said he wanted to change a tire after believing it was losing air. Somehow, Henthorn said Lynn ended up under the car, possibly looking for a lugnut, when the jack holding up the Jeep slipped, and the car fell on Lynn. She was pronounced dead the next day, May 7, 1995. There were no witnesses in that case and after one week, Douglas County investigators ruled Lynn Henthorn’s death an accident.
They have now re-opened that 18 year old investigation citing “extraordinary circumstances.”
“We were originally told the first wife died in a car accident,” said Todd Bertolet. “He(Harold) told us that.”
Bertolet said it was only after his sister’s 2012 death that the family learned Harold Henthorn’s first wife’s death was the result of more than just a car accident.
“It’s a lie by omission,” said the brother.
He called it “ridiculous” that Douglas County investigators ruled that case an accident after just one week.
Ron Hanavan, a spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department declined to discuss the 1995 investigation or release the case file to CBS4 citing the newly reopened investigation.