DENVER (CBS4)– A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Harold Henthorn to stand trial in May 2015 in connection with the 2012 death of his second wife, Toni Henthorn, during a fall in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Henthorn, 58, is facing a federal murder charge in the case with prosecutors contending Henthorn pushed his wife to her death off a 140-foot cliff. The Judge scheduled the trial to run from May 4 through May 15. Henthorn has entered a plea of not guilty and is being held without bond.READ MORE: George Pollard, High School Basketball Coach, Accused Of Sexual Assault
During a brief hearing Wednesday morning, the Judge also ordered hundreds of pages of search warrants and affidavits in the case unsealed, which occurred Wednesday afternoon. Those documents show federal investigators executed search warrants of Harold Henthorn’s email accounts, phone, vehicle, homes and show an electronic tracking device was placed on Henthorn’s vehicle in 2013 during the federal probe.
The unsealed documents suggest Harold Henthorn omitted important facts about his wife’s death in interviews with federal investigators, altered stories about what happened multiple times, and acted suspiciously in the eyes of investigators, friends and family.
Investigators report that Harold Henthorn called 911 September 29, 2012 at 5:54 p.m. to report his wife had fallen off a cliff in a remote area of Deer Mountain and help was needed. Henthorn said he and his wife were on a hike to celebrate their 12th anniversary.
According to one affidavit, dispatchers began advising Harold Henthorn on performing CPR on his stricken wife. At the same time he was supposed to be doing CPR, Harold Henthorn contacted his brother in law in Mississippi.
Barry Bertolet, Toni Henthorn’s brother, is a doctor. Henthorn began texting Bertolet requesting advice on providing medical aid to Toni Henthorn. But investigators then say Harold Henthorn also texted and called a friend in Denver, Jack Barker. While he was supposed to be performing CPR on his wife, Henthorn texted Barker, “Can you get Steve t and drive to estes pk.” Investigators say while he was supposed to be doing CPR, Henthorn was exchanging text messages with his friend about his situation.
A park ranger arrived at about 8 p.m. and determined Toni Henthorn was dead. The ranger said a search of Toni Henthorn’s backpack showed “no light sources located in the backpack or any indication she was prepared to hike in the dark.”
In a later interview, Henthorn told an investigator he and his wife had begun their anniversary hike at about 1:30 p.m. Henthorn said they were going to leave at about 4:45 p.m. to head back to their car “when Toni saw what she thought were turkey and deer through some binoculars.”
But investigators later said they never found any binoculars.
Henthorn told investigators his wife was taking pictures “when he received a a text message from his… babysitter… which told him his daughter’s soccer team had won 5 to 1. Henthorn then saw a blur and realized Toni was gone.”
But federal agents later checked Henthorn’s phone records and determined he had not received that text message from the babysitter until 5:54 p.m. the time he called 911 to report his wife had fallen. He then changed his story to say he was actually examining different text messages on his phone than the one he originally identified.
Investigators also say that when they searched Harold Henthorn’s jeep, they discovered a map of Rocky Mountain National Park “and an ‘X’ marked near the location where Toni Henthorn fell to her death.”
When a ranger questioned Harold Henthorn about that map, ”Henthorn appeared at a loss for words and told the investigator it was his map but it was not from the September 29, 2012 trip. Henthorn could not explain why there was an X on the map near the site of the fall.”
Investigators then say Henthorn told his brother in law, Barry Bertolet he “didn’t remember making the map or why.”
In the court documents, investigators note that after Toni Henthorn’s death, law enforcement agencies received a total of 16 letters and calls expressing concerns about her death and requesting a police investigation.READ MORE: Colorado Weather Experts Urge Drivers To 'Look Before You Lock'
Rangers say that Harold Henthorn told them it took him 45 minutes to hike down to his wife’s body from the spot on the cliff where she fell. But during their investigation, rangers said it only took them 10 minutes to hike uphill from where Toni Henthorn’s body was found to the top of the cliff from which she fell.
Authorities say they quickly learned that Harold Henthorn’s first wife had died under unusual circumstances in 1995. Sandra Lynn Henthorn died when she was crushed under the couple’s car during a tire change on a remote road in Douglas County. In that case, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office ruled the death an accident after less than a week of investigation. Harold Henthorn was not charged with a crime although Douglas County reopened their investigation in October 2012 after receiving inquiries from CBS4.
In that case, Harold Henthorn received $300,000 in life insurance from the death of his first wife. Although there were three insurance policies totaling $4.5 million on Toni Henthorn, investigators say when they initially questioned Harold Henthorn, he only told them of the existence of one policy for $1.5 million and neglected to mention the two other policies worth another $3 million.
Curiously, investigators say they also discovered Harold Henthorn took out a $400,000 life insurance policy in 2009 on Grace Rishell, the ex- wife of Henthorn’s deceased wife Lynn Henthorn’s brother. Harold Henthorn is listed as the primary beneficiary. The new documents don’t clarify why Henthorn was insuring Rishell or if she was aware of the policy taken out on her.
One affidavit identifies an incident in 2011 previously revealed by CBS4 last year. In that case, Harold and Toni Henthorn were at their Grand Lake cabin in May 2011 when a large beam or sheet of plywood Harold Henthorn was handling fell on his wife leaving her seriously injured. Harold Henthorn dropped it on his wife according to investigative accounts. Toni Henthorn later told her mother that her husband had called her to come outside. When she came outside she told her mother she saw something on the ground and bent to pick it up.
“At that time the beam hit her, she told her mother if she hadn’t bent over when she did the beam would have killed her.”
The investigation also revealed that despite Harold Henthorn holding himself out as a busy, successful businessman, raising money for charities and non-profits, investigators concluded he didn’t work at all.
Interviewed by federal agents, Henthorn’s babysitter recounted that Henthorn would leave on Thursdays for business trips and would usually return the next day. The babysitter said Henthorn would say he “had to catch a flight at a certain time and would leave the house well after the time he said the flight was scheduled for.”
She told investigators Henthorn “never had any luggage with him when he left the house.”
Agents said Harold Henthorn showed zero income from working between 2005 and 2011 and they could find no evidence any of the companies he claimed to have started and run even existed.
Investigators interviewed longtime friends of Harold Henthorn, Myra and Mike Whitener who said “Henthorn appeared more distraught he was being investigated than over the death of his wife.”
Myra Whitener told federal agents that about a month after Toni Henthorn’s death, Harold called her and said, “I miss my best friend, I have to do the laundry and I have to do the grocery shopping.”
Craig Truman, Henthorn’s attorney, has declined to discuss the case at any length aside from saying that when all the facts were in,”justice will be done.”
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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Henthorn Case Documents