The mother of accused ‘Moscow Mule murderess’ Kouri Richins repeated the same narrative that her daughter had scripted in a letter found in her prison cell as she spoke for the first time exclusively with DailyMail.com.
Lisa Darden told us she believed her late son-in-law Eric Richins had bought fentanyl-laced drugs and simply overdosed, just as Kouri had spelled out her instructions in her jailhouse note.
And she repeated Kouri’s line that her husband would buy drugs abroad and slip them into her luggage without her knowledge.
Darden, 64, spoke exclusively to DailyMail.com on Friday, after steadfastly refusing media requests for interviews since her daughter’s arrest.
Now it turns out, virtually everything she told us mirrored the instructions laid out in a six-page letter that prison authorities found in Kouri’s cell after she was sent to the hospital following a seizure behind bars.
Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband, Eric Richins, then wrote a children’s book about grieving, appeared in court earlier this month
Speaking to DailyMail.com, Richins’s mother Lisa Darden (pictured right at her daughter’s 2013 wedding) said she believed her late son-in-law bought fentanyl-laced drugs and simply overdosed
Richins is accused of poisoning husband Eric (pictured), 39, by slipping him five times the lethal dose of fentanyl into the drink in March 2022
Richins, 34, was arrested in May and charged with first degree aggravated murder for allegedly killing her husband by slipping fentanyl into his Moscow Mule – a vodka-based cocktail.
She is also charged with multiple counts of second-degree possession of a control substance with intent to distribute.
Eric died in March last year and following his death Kouri wrote a children’s book on dealing with grief.
Now wallowing in the Summit County Jail, she fell ill on Thursday after taking prison-administered medication, allegedly for the sixth time since her arrest.
While she was in the hospital, guards searched her cell and found a copy of the bombshell letter Kouri had written to her mom, instructing her to fan conspiracy theories that Eric had a drug problem and overdosed.
In the letter, Richins asks her to get her brother, Ronney, to concoct a story that Eric, a year before his death, secretly told him that he’d get pain pills and fentanyl from a ranch in Mexico. Kouri wrote that she would back him up and say that Eric, 39, later told her about this conversation with Ronney.
She wrote that she’d also say that her husband asked if their caretaker – a drug dealer named Carmen Lauber – could hook him up with some more.
In her hour-long interview with DailyMail.com, Darden repeated the overdose narrative.
‘I think Eric bought some pills off the street and they were laced, and he didn’t know it,’ she told DailyMail.com.
She then proceeded to bash her daughter’s dead husband, calling him a controlling, sometimes violent, man who cheated on his wife and once punched her in the face after she confronted his mistress.
It turns out virtually everything Darden told DailyMail.com mirrored the instructions laid out in a six-page letter that prison authorities found in Kouri’s cell after she was sent to the hospital following a seizure behind bars.
On Friday, Richins ‘had an incident’ when given the wrong medication and was taken to the hospital after seizing up at Utah’s Summit County Jail
And despite Kouri’s initial claim that Eric didn’t take drugs other than the occasional pot gummy, the mom said he ate gummies daily, and brought marijuana and possibly other drugs home from international trips.
‘I know two occasions he bought in another country and put the stuff in Kouri’s bag and didn’t tell her there were drugs in her bag till they were up in the air,’ said Darden, who lives in Heber City, Utah.
She said Eric, whom she described as a hypochondriac, even stopped by a few times to ask her for prescription pain pills, after she had surgery.
‘I had several surgeries, so he thought I would have Oxy,’ she said, referring to the prescription opioid Oxycodone.
‘He’d come by, say ‘Lisa, have you got anything for pain? Got anything for pain?’
She added, cryptically: ‘He’d ask these workers, got anything for pain?’
‘Do I know that he went out on the street?’ she added, suggestively. ‘I know what people have told me.’
Darden’s comments came as she struggled to understand exactly why her daughter had a seizure – an incident the mom described as ‘absolutely terrifying.’
She blamed it on the jail for giving her the wrong medication.
She was initially kept in the dark about the cell search, which led prosecutors to accuse the daughter of witness tampering, and to ask a judge to bar Kouri from having any further contact with her mother or brother, who are both slated to be witnesses to the trial.
On Friday, Darden was still in communication with her daughter, relieved to report that her daughter was feeling better, though awaiting blood test results to learn exactly what happened.
DailyMail.com previously reported that Eric Richins (pictured with Kouri, her brother Ronney, and her mother) had even left a letter to his family instructing them to ‘check out’ Kouri in the event that something happened to him
Eric’s family told investigators shortly after he died they suspected his wife had killed the father-of-three
The Kamas, Utah, home where police say Kouri Richins killed her husband Eric in March 2022 with a fentanyl-laced Moscow Mule cocktail
Contacted after news of the letter broke, Darden on Monday refused to comment.
‘Sorry, I’m not giving no comments to no one,’ she texted DailyMail.com, and rejected a visit, saying she would be ‘gone all day.’
But on Friday she was anxious to try to reverse the public narrative of her daughter as a cold, calculated murderer.
Prosecutors say Kouri, a Mormon raising three sons with Eric outside Salt Lake City, purchased fentanyl from her caretaker who moonlighted as a drug dealer.
Kouri allegedly poisoned her husband in March 2022, then waged a legal battle within weeks of his death in a bid to secure an estate valued in excess of $3.6million.
She later published a picture book to help children cope with losing a loved one.
‘This case is so bizarre, you couldn’t write a story this good,’ Darden told DailyMail.com, standing in the doorway of her home in a desolate Utah mountain town. ‘I’ve lived it.’
She said she’s convinced of her daughter’s innocence, and proceeded to unload on her deceased son-in-law as well as the caretaker/drug dealer who is expected to be a star witness in a future trial.
Darden said Eric, who came from a prominent Mormon family in Kamas, would cheat on his wife and left her with a black eye after she confronted his former mistress.
Darden also claimed Eric would cheat on his wife and identified his mistress as Jennifer White, 40 (pictured) – who denied the affair
She identified the mistress as Jennifer White, 40, who like Eric worked in the masonry business.
Darden said her daughter grew suspicious when her husband’s phone rang at home. She picked it up, and the woman on the other end instantly hung up.
Kouri quizzed her husband, who confessed to the affair, according to Darden.
Kouri then phoned the alleged mistress the next day, shouting at her and demanding she leave her husband alone, the mom said.
‘Eric responded angrily, and this wasn’t the first time,’ Darden said. ‘He’s push her, he’d punch her.’
Approached by DailyMail.com, White acknowledged the confrontational call, but said she denied the affair and that was the end of it.
‘She asked me and I said no, and that was it,’ White told DailyMail.com. ‘I don’t know why they’re even saying my name now. I haven’t even talked to Eric in over four years. There was nothing. He was my friend through work, that’s it.’
Eric was an avid outdoorsman and hunter, but Darden said he’d take it to the extreme, sharing a time he allegedly shot a hapless giraffe in South Africa as his wife screamed for him to stop, then joined the guides in cutting off its legs to display in his trophy room.
Kouri – pictured in court in June – is also facing a fresh lawsuit from the sister of her late husband over alleged myriad financial interferences with his finances including stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his accounts
A family attorney revealed Eric Richins was considering divorce at the time he died, but chose to stay married to wife Kouri for their three young sons
‘They got into an argument,’ Darden said. ‘He said we didn’t spend this kind of f**king money to come out here and to not take home a giraffe.
‘And then, of course, there was the racial thing,’ she continued, claiming he treated the local guides like second-class citizens, upsetting his wife who invited support staff to join them for meals and sit with them in their warm truck when the crew had been shivering in the back cab.
‘And Eric just psycho’d and he said ‘no, this is how they do it here,’ Darden said.
She claimed Eric was bipolar, and that the couple struggled with their relationship.
‘They went to marriage counseling to try to solve their problems,’ she said. ‘They worked it out, to agree to disagree, that’s about how it turned out.’
Prosecutors say Kouri purchased fentanyl from the caretaker, Carmen Lauber.
Lauber, on probation for several prior felony drug convictions, has not been charged with any crimes connected to the death.
Lauber, who had worked for the Richins family and for Kouri’s real estate business, has been cooperating with the prosecution. She admitted to supplying her 15-30 fentanyl pills on two occasions, a month before Eric’s death, charging $900 each time, according to a search warrant affidavit.
But Kouri’s mother dismissed Lauber’s account, calling her a ‘habitual liar’ who ‘will do anything to save her own ass in any possible way.
‘If her mouth is moving, she’s lying,’ Darden continued. ‘She worked for my sister for nine years, and she would steal money out of a client’s home.
‘The cops were called on a couple occasions because big money came out missing. She’s a thief, she’s a liar. She’s that person you don’t want to know, to be honest with you.’
Prosecutors say Kouri purchased fentanyl from the caretaker, Carmen Lauber. Althuogh she is now fitted with an ankle bracelet, Lauber has not been charged with any crimes connected to Eric Richins’s death
Kouri is said to have bought four life insurance policies on her husband totaling $2million in the years prior to his death
Reached by DailyMail.com, Lauber, wearing an ankle monitor as required under probation for a prior conviction, declined to comment, declaring, ‘There is a gag order on this case.’
Kouri’s mom said she believes Lauber, to avoid prosecution on potential new felony charges, is framing her daughter to avoid prison.
‘I don’t think the fentanyl (that killed Eric) had anything to do with Carmen, personally,’ Darden said.
Darden has maintained daily contact with her daughter in jail, speaking by phone and video, and visiting twice a week. That could soon change if prosecutors get their way.
Police discovered Kouri’s letter to Darden hidden in the pages of a book. Prosecutors say that earlier in the week, Richins during another video conference held up a different letter for her mother to read silently to herself.
In this latest note, Kouri shared her new marching orders for her brother Ronney, adding that he can ‘reword’ this story however he’d like, but ‘to make the point just include it all.’
‘Tell Ronney I need him to do this,’ she writes her mom, warning her to only speak to him about this in person because she believes the mom’s home and phone have been bugged.
Speaking with DailyMail.com, Darden said she continues to see her daughter as a ‘wonderful person’ who ‘gives far more than she ever in life receives.’
Richins had written a book following her husbands passing. and appeared on TV promoting it
Kouri is seen promoting her book on a local Utah station in April this year. ‘We have three little boys,’ she told the interviewer, ‘And my kids and I kind of wrote this book on the different emotions and grieving processes that we’ve experienced in the past year’
‘And I’m not saying that because I’m her mother,’ she added. ‘I see it on a daily basis, all the things she has done.’
She highlighted several.
‘She’s a Boy Scout leader, and during flood season, she has them fill sandbags and give them away to the people whose areas are flooding,’ she said.
‘And for the firefighters who work 20 hours a day during fire season, she takes them ice, water, cookies. And at Christmas time, she buys all these presents to supply three families, thousands of dollars.’
‘I know my daughter,’ she continued. ‘I could name you 50 people that I think could do it, but not her.’
‘She lives and dies for her boys,’ she said, stating that Kouri still speaks twice a week with her three children, ages 11, 9 and 6.
‘Her boys are her world,’ Darden said. ‘And you think she would jeopardize that for this? Absolutely not. She would have divorced him first.’
She’s expecting a full acquittal.
‘I think she’s going to walk out of there, quickly,’ the mom said.
‘I’m hoping all 12 jurors agree. But even if they don’t, you can’t tell me that half of them won’t agree. It’s not there. She did not do this.’