Harold Henthorn indicted in 2012 murder of 2nd wife in RMNP, faces probe in 1st wife's death

Highlands Ranch man held without bond

DENVER - A Highlands Ranch man indicted in the murder of his second wife, who plunged to her death in Rocky Mountain National Park in 2012, also faces an investigation into the 1995 death of his first wife.

Harold Henthorn was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver Wednesday for the alleged premeditated murder of his second wife, 50-year-old Toni Henthorn, according to Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the Department of Justice.

He was arrested Thursday morning after dropping his daughter off at school. The National Park Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Douglas County Sheriff's Office participated in the arrest, Dorschner said.

Toni Henthorn died on September 29, 2012. He and her husband were celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary in Rocky Mountain National Park. She was a successful ophthalmologist. He was a businessman.

--Autopsy Report: Wife died after 'she fell or was pushed down a cliff'-- 

She and her husband had left a hiking trail on Deer Mountain and were walking along a ledge, according to an autopsy report. The wife "was reportedly sighting in a picture when she fell face forward over the ledge," and fell 40 to 50 feet.

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

Toni Henthorn had three life insurance policies totaling $4.5 million, according to court records. The insurance companies, however, have not paid any money on the policies.

"According to the indictment, on or about September 29, 2012, in the State and District of Colorado, and within the jurisdiction of the United States, namely the Rocky Mountain National Park, Henthorn willfully, deliberately, maliciously, and with premeditation and malice aforethought did unlawfully kill his wife, Toni Henthorn," Dorschner stated in a news release.

While it's been two years since Toni Henthorn's death, a legal expert said there are many ways for prosecutors to build a murder case against her husband.

"A lot of different things could be used to prove this was premeditated," University of Denver law professor Nancy Leong.

"Whether it's emails, whether it's a diary entry, whether it's a witness who can testify to a conversation," Leong told 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart. "It'll come down to the evidence and how strong the evidence is."

--First wife crushed when Jeep fell on her as she, husband fixed flat--

Meanwhile, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office "has an active and open investigation into the death of his first wife," said sheriff's spokeswoman Deborah Sherman. That investigation has been going on for at least a year.

In 1995, Harold Henthorn's first wife, Sandra Henthorn, was killed while reportedly helping her husband fix a flat tire on Colorado 67 near Sedalia. She was under their Jeep Cherokee, which was raised on a jack, when it fell and crushed her.

Sandra Henthorn's death investigation "was reopened because of the death of his second wife…[which was] initially ruled an 'accidental death,'" Sherman said.

Reaction to Henthorn's arrest ranged from relief to disbelief.

--Toni's brother seeks 'justice for my sister'--

Toni Henthorn's brother, Todd Bertolet, issued this statement Thursday:

"Today’s arrest of Harold Henthorn is a culmination and validation of the efforts of some exceptional people with the National Park Service and the FBI. This judicial process is not only warranted, but is deserved by a wonderful lady that was my sister, Toni Bertolet Henthorn. We obviously did not choose to be placed in the position that we find ourselves, but we fully support this process in effort to seek justice for my sister."

A doctor at Toni Henthorn's former Denver ophthalmology practice, Associates in Eyecare, praised the long-awaited break in the case.

"We're glad they made an arrest. Thumbs up!" the doctor told 7NEWS as she pointed her thumbs up.

--Husband's attorney: 'Justice will be done'--

Harold Henthorn's attorney, Craig Truman, said in a statement, "I'm sure when all the facts are known in this difficult and complex case, justice will be done."

Two housekeepers at Henthorn's Highlands Ranch home were shocked to hear their employer had been arrested. The women held out their arms to show their goose bumps to 7NEWS reporter Lance Hernandez.

One housekeeper said Harold Henthorn once told her that his wife had died.

"Did he tell you how she died?" Hernandez asked.

"No, he never went into that," the housekeeper replied.

Henthorn made his first appearance in federal court on Thursday afternoon. If he is convicted in Toni Henthorn's killing, he would face a mandatory term of life in federal prison without the possibility of parole. He could also be fined up to $250,000.

He is being held without bond until a detention hearing on Nov. 12. 

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