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The Accidental Husband

Two wives dead in accidents 17 years apart -- did a husband get away with murder?

Produced by Ruth Chenetz and Lindsey Gutterman

Rocky Mountain National Park is a place known for its soaring beauty, majestic wildlife and inspiring serenity, but in September of 2012, it was a site of heartbreak.

The story of how love might have gone murderously wrong begins with a joyful time.

Toni and Harold Henthorn
Toni and Harold Henthorn
KCNC

Dr. Toni Bertolet, a sophisticated Southern belle, met Harold Henthorn in 1999. Toni's brother, Barry, was pleased his 37-year-old sister had found the kind of man she was looking for.

"I was extraordinarily happy for my sister. ...It appeared that she found her true love. And if she was happy, I was happy," Barry Bertolet told "48 Hours" correspondent Peter Van Sant. "She experimented with Christian Matchmakers. ...And she met this guy named Harold Henthorn. ... Her comments were that he was very kind, he was very romantic, he was very smart."

Both had lost their first spouse under dramatically different circumstances. Toni's marriage had ended in divorce, while Harold's first wife died in a tragic incident.

"What did you know about Harold's first wife, Lynn?" Van Sant asked Barry Bertolet.

"When we had asked Harold about that, the only response that we had was that she died in a car accident," he replied.

Bertolet's wife, Paula, not wanting to upset Harold, didn't want to pry.

"I thought it was just a bad car wreck and she died," she said. "So we didn't wanna ask him to elaborate. We just took it for face value."

"He seemed like a good match for Toni," Bob Bertolet added.

Toni's parents, Bob and Yvonne, had a good feeling when they first met Harold.

"He said, 'I was just smitten by Toni,'" said Yvonne Bertolet.

It was easy to be taken with Toni. She was attractive and successful -- a prominent eye doctor and surgeon in Jackson, Mississippi. Mostly though, Toni was known for her caring nature.

"She loved people," Yvonne Bertolet said. "And if she could make somebody feel better, she would. And this started early in her life."

The middle child with two brothers, Toni was a stand out in school.

"Did you compete academically?" Van Sant asked Barry Bertolet.

"Oh yeah, and she smoked me," he replied with a laugh. "She's probably the smartest lady I've ever met."

No small praise, coming from Barry, himself a prominent cardiologist.

Harold Henthorn seemed accomplished as well, describing himself as an entrepreneur with his own company.

"He said, 'I'm a fund raiser. I go out to non profits and try to raise money,'" Barry Bertolet said. "I thought that was an interesting, but an odd business at that time, too."

A year after meeting, the couple got married in Mississippi.

They soon moved to the Denver, Colorado area, where Henthorn previously lived, and said he had business contacts. Toni joined a local ophthalmology practice. But Toni's strong family ties would often bring the loving couple back to Mississippi for holidays.

One thing was missing from their life -- a child. And in 2005, Toni and Harold celebrated the birth of their daughter, Haley.

Daniel Jarvis was a long-time family friend of Henthorn's.

"He had his daughter. He had his wife ... he had his nice life," Jarvis said. "He seemed like a good husband. It seemed like he provided ... He's a very good father."

When Jarvis decided to move to Colorado, Harold and Toni let him stay with them for several months.

Asked what it was like in the Henthorn household, Jarvis told Van Sant, "Toni went to work most mornings. Harold, he worked down in his basement. ...He would ... say he was meeting with a client, going to lunch or he was traveling."

Christmas newsletters painted a picture of a happy family, with successful careers for both Toni and Harold. But in 2006, their lives took a terrifying turn. While Barry Bertolet was demonstrating his new CAT scan machine, he discovered that Henthorn's arteries were dangerously clogged.

"Harold ... was in the throes of the beginnings of a heart attack," he said.

Henthorn was rushed into surgery.

"Do you believe that you saved Harold's life?" Van Sant asked Barry Bertolet.

"I know that I did. And Harold would confirm that," he replied.

Toni had her own brush with death in 2011. She was injured in an unusual accident at their mountain cabin, when a heavy wooden beam fell on her.

"She said, 'I saw something on the floor. And if I had not picked it up, it would have killed me instantly. But it hit the back of my neck and fractured a vertebra,'" said Yvonne Bertolet.

"And with that she did lose some sensation in her hands, Barry Bertolet said. "When I would call Harold ... it was like, 'Oh it's no big deal.'"

"I didn't learn about this until much later," Yvonne Bertolet said. "And I said, 'Why didn't somebody call me?' And she said, 'Harold didn't call you?' And I said, 'No.'"

By this time, Toni's family says Harold Henthorn had become a demanding and controlling husband -- even talking with Toni on the phone seemed impossible.

"Harold would always answer. See, he had the house phone hooked up to his cell phone," Yvonne Bertolet explained.

"The only one-on-one conversation I ever had was with Harold. If I tried to talk to Toni or Haley, it was always on speaker phone," said Barry Bertolet.

"Why do you think he did this?" Van Sant asked.

"I think that he likes to control everything," Bertolet replied.

That was also the impression of workers in Toni's eye practice. Christie Drews noticed Henthorn wanted to be involved in everything

"When our doctors would have meetings ... Harold had to be part of it," Drews said. "He had to know everything she was doing."

While the staff adored Toni, office manager Tammi Abbruscato says their feelings for Henthorn were quite different.

"He made us uncomfortable. He was kind of -- there was something creepy about him," Abbruscato told Van Sant. "She was not able to schedule anything outside of her normal schedule without first consulting with Harold."

So, it was a pleasant surprise when, in September of 2012, he asked Abbruscato to help plan a 12th wedding anniversary surprise trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. She gladly obliged, secretly clearing Toni's schedule so she could leave early.

"The guy was creepy to me, but she was married to him. And if he was gonna do something nice, it was kind of exciting. You know, maybe for just a moment, I thought, 'Oh, that's kind of cool. Maybe he's not so bad," she said.


The entire office got involved. Drews took out her cell phone to record the surprise.

"It's the last image. It's the last time anybody who was close to her saw her alive," said Abbruscato.

"SHE'S GONE"

On September 29, 2012 - a beautiful fall day -- Harold and Toni Henthorn set out on a trail in the Rocky Mountain National Park on their anniversary hike. About two miles up, Harold led them off trail into rough terrain.

Harold and Toni Henthorn on their anniversary hike
Harold and Toni Henthorn on their anniversary hike
Daniel Jarvis

"She had bad knees," Barry Bertolet said. "So she was not a well person to go hiking, particularly in a rugged terrain."

Photos were taken on that anniversary hike - a hike that went terribly wrong, as Barry Bertolet learned, through text messages from Harold.

henthorntextcrop.jpg
Barry Bertolet

"It says, 'Barry... Urgent. Toni is injured ... Critical, requested flight for life. ...And then, he texted me back saying that 'She's gone,' " Bertolet told Van Sant. "Being the big brother and supposed to take care of your sister. You can't do it. It's a bad feeling. ... I needed to be there for my sister and I couldn't."

Toni had fallen nearly 140 feet to her death. Barry Bertolet had to break the news to his parents that his 50-year-old sister had died.

"And Barry said, 'she's gone,'" Bob Bertolet said. "It's the worst two words I've ever heard in my life."

"It was like, 'No, this didn't happen,'" said Yvonne Bertolet.

And for Toni's family, what happened here wasn't adding up -- from Toni, with her bad knees, taking a strenuous hike, to Harold texting Barry during the accident, to the multiple explanations Harold gave about how Toni died.

"The story is that ... he notices that she was lagging behind," Barry Bertolet said. "And he can't find her. So he starts looking over edges. And then he sees that she's down at the bottom."

Then, says Barry Bertolet, that story quickly changed.

"And he tells me then that he got a text message ... and so he has his head down looking at the phone text and sees there's ... like a little flash. And then Toni's not there," he said.

"And does that story change?" Van Sant asked.

"That story changes by the next day. Toni now is taking a picture of Harold," Barry Bertolet explained. "And Toni has, presumably, while setting up a shot of him, fallen backwards off of a cliff. And so here are three stories ... in basically less than 48 hours."

"And what do you think?" Van Sant asked.

"Warning buzzers are going off," said Bertolet.

"What about the notion that maybe he was suffering post-traumatic stress ... and those crazy versions of stories ... was all a result of shock?" Van Sant asked Barry Bertolet.

"I think you have to take all of that in context ... if he does have this irrational emotional behavior, how does he have it together so well to plan her funeral?" he replied. "Not even 48 hours after his wife has died, he has a video made ... he's got the songs picked out. He's already contacted the people that are gonna sing the songs. ... It's too well planned.

Five days after Toni's death, hundreds gathered at a memorial service. By then, Henthorn had already cremated Toni - a decision which added to the list of red flags for the Bertolets.

"We did not want Toni cremated. And Harold insisted," Yvonne Bertolet said. "We wanted to bring her home and bury her."

"I think he was trying to hide evidence," said Bob Bertolet.

tonihenthornhike.jpg
Toni Henthorn on her anniversary hike
Daniel Jarvis

"I think that Harold Henthorn pushed my sister off the mountain," said Barry Bertolet.

"Here you are grieving her death, which you now believe may have been a murder. And if that's the case, the murderer is sitting right next to you," Van Sant remarked.

"Correct," said Barry Bertolet.

Law enforcement, as it does with all deadly falls, was immediately investigating, and discovered something that raised suspicions. They found a map inside Henthorn's Jeep with a hand drawn X on the spot where Toni fell.

"After the service, he ... came up to me and his first thing was, 'They found a map, they found a map,'" Jarvis told Van Sant.

"He didn't come up and give you a hug and say, 'What a tragedy, I'm so glad you're here'?" Van Sant asked.

"No," said Jarvis.

"The first words out of his mouth is, 'They found a map'?"

"Yeah," said Jarvis.

"Did you have any idea what he was talking about?"

"No clue, no idea," Jarvis replied.

Harold Henthorn's marked map
Harold Henthorn's marked map

But a few weeks, later Henthorn brought it up again, explaining to Jarvis the map was meant for him to highlight a nice trail. Henthorn also told Jarvis he could never hurt Toni.

"He's saying ... 'You lived with us, you know that there was nothing wrong in our marriage ... You know that I could never do this,'" Jarvis continued.

"And what did you say?" Van Sant asked.

"I said, 'Yes, I agree, I don't believe you could ever do this,'" he replied.

"The Harold that you knew, was he capable of murder?"

"Not the Harold I knew," said Jarvis.

"I knew he did it," Christie Drews told Van Sant

"Co-workers and close friends kind of privately were talking and saying, you know, 'I really feel bad to say this, but I think that Harold did this,'" said Abbruscato.

In fact, many tips were coming into law enforcement -- 16 calls and letters, all requesting Toni's death be further investigated, with fingers pointing at Harold.

And then, Brian Maass, an investigative reporter at Denver CBS affiliate KCNC and a "48 Hours" consultant, received a tip that changed everything.

"It just said his first wife died in a freak accident as well," Maass told Van Sant.

Maass began investigating both deaths -- and was shocked by what he found.

"In both cases, the accidents are freakish or bizarre, extremely unusual. ...he tells lots of different stories," he told Van Sant. "Both wives had a lot of insurance money on them ... he was the one who was gonna benefit from that."

ANOTHER UNUSUAL DEATH

"Toni Henthorn had a lot of friends. She had a lot of people who loved her ... and right from the start wanted to see justice. They didn't feel good about what happened," said Brian Maass.

With questions being raised about how Toni Henthorn fell to her death in Rocky Mountain National Park, investigators were retracing her last steps -- now focusing on the only witness, her husband, Harold Henthorn. Remember, his first wife, Lynn, had also died in unusual circumstances in 1995, crushed under their Jeep.

"She was a great woman. She was awesome in heart and soul," said Lynn's brother, Kevin Rishell.

"It's so hard to convey the beauty of anyone's spirit, but Lynn was truly ... she was the real thing, said her sister, Lisanne Bales.

Lynn's siblings, Kevin and Eric Rishell and Lisanne Bales, were delighted when their loving sister, a social worker, found Harold to share her life with.

"He was charming. He was a fun guy to be around," said Bales.

"I thought Harold was a great guy," Eric Rishell said. "I thought this is good ... my sister needs a good man like this."

Harold and Lynn Henthorn
Harold and Lynn Henthorn
Grace Rishell

Grace Rishell, Lynn's sister-in-law, remembers how happy Lynn seemed during her 12-year marriage to Henthorn.

"She adored him," Rishell said. "She looked at him with very loving, adoring eyes."

It was a feeling Grace Rishell could understand.

"He began to be like this wonderful big brother to me," she said.

"Would you say loving personality?" Van Sant asked.

"Oh, incredibly," Grace Rishell replied. "There were a lot of times, as my family began to grow, of watching Harold relate to my girls. ...how engaging he was with them. He and Lynn never forgot a birthday or Christmas. ...you couldn't ask for a more loving family."

But on May 6, 1995, tragedy struck.

"We got a call from a paramedic letting us know that there had been an accident. ...And she was gone. And It was horrible pain, it was horrible," Grace Rishell said in tears. "We all came as quick as we could to be there and to comfort Harold."

"And what did you know about the circumstances of Lynn's death? What were you told?" Van Sant asked.

"It was just a freak accident," Grace Rishell replied.

Lynn and Harold Henthorn on a previous outing
Lynn and Harold Henthorn on a previous outing
Grace Rishell

Harold Henthorn told law enforcement he and Lynn had gone out for dinner and a drive in a remote area called Sedalia. While driving, Harold thought he was getting a flat tire.

He pulled off the highway onto the shoulder in the dark to change the tire. Lynn, he said, was helping out holding the tire's lug nuts as he removed them. Harold says she dropped one and it went under the vehicle. And at the same time that Lynn went under to retrieve it, Harold says he threw the flat tire in the back, knocking the Jeep off of its jack and onto Lynn.

"The Lynn that you knew so well, was she the kind of woman who would crawl under a car?" Van Sant asked Grace Rishell. "Was that her nature?"

"No. No, it wasn't at all. That's why it did seem odd," she replied.

Lynn's siblings also thought the accident bizarre, but they too couldn't imagine Henthorn was involved.

"This was a man we vacationed with and spent hundreds of hours with. And we just didn't allow ourselves to go there," said Bales.


The Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to the accident and started investigating. And just like in Toni Henthorn's case 17 years later, Harold Henthorn told a number of conflicting stories.

Reports say Henthorn told one deputy they were driving back from dinner and told another they were going to dinner. According to one report, Henthorn said Lynn called out his name after the Jeep fell on her. But he told another investigator that Lynn said, "I think something's on me." Henthorn told one deputy he pulled Lynn out from underneath that Jeep. He later said that people who stopped to help pulled her out.


The sheriff's office investigated Lynn Henthorn's death for six days, and then closed the case calling it an accident, as did the coroner at the time. In the following years, investigators say Harold Henthorn continued telling various versions of what happened the day Lynn died -- one bewildering contradiction after another.

"That -- CPR people or the people -- the EMTs didn't know what they were doing and they actually crushed her. That -- she was killed in an automobile accident ... head-on automobile accident," said Bales.

"Not under the car?" Van Sant asked.

"No," she replied.

"There were lots of conflicts," said Lora Thomas, who became the Douglas County Coroner in 2011, 16 years after Lynn's death.

A Colorado state trooper for decades, Thomas hadn't known about Lynn's accident until she heard about Toni's tragic fall, and learned both women had been married to the same man.

"And you hear this story, what are you thinking?" Van Sant asked Thomas.

"Well, I'm thinking I have to go into investigator mode," she said. "There were lots of things in this story that don't make any sense to me at all."

"If Lynn Henthorn's accident had been properly investigated, could Toni Henthorn be alive today?" Van Sant asked.

"You know Peter, you ask a question that I have asked myself for over two years," Thomas replied.

INVESTIGATING LYNN HENTHORN'S DEATH

What really happened in 1995, the night Lynn Henthorn, Harold's first wife, was crushed under their Jeep? "48 Hours" asked Arnold Wheat, a nationally recognized accident reconstruction specialist, to review Lynn's case.


Using a similar make and model as the Henthorn's Jeep Cherokee, Wheat, a "48 Hours" consultant, deflated the tire to the pressure that Henthorn claimed forced him to pull over on that remote, darkened highway.

"This doesn't look flat," Van Sant noted to Wheat.

"No," he replied.

"Is this undrivable, in your opinion?"

"No," Wheat replied. "In most people's minds, a flat tire is flat with the rim on the ground."

"I've driven on a rim. This isn't anywhere close to being on the rim," Van Sant pointed out.

"No, it's not," said Wheat.

Then there's an unusual kind of jack that Wheat thinks was similar to the one that Harold, in one report, told investigators he used to change the tire.

"Is this a bit precarious to be putting up a 4,000 pound Jeep Cherokee?" Van Sant asked Wheat of the jack.

"Absolutely," he replied.

Henthorn told investigators he had to use an unconventional jack because the one that came with the Jeep didn't work -- a claim Wheat finds suspicious.

"How often have you heard a jack like this failing?" Van Sant asked.

"Never," said Wheat.

"Never?"

"Never."

What's worse, says Coroner Lora Thomas, is it seems investigators just took Harold's word that the jack was defective.

"There is no indication that the sheriff's department tested that jack," she said.

"They never tested it?" Van Sant asked.

"Not in the information that I've read," said Thomas.

Another issue? One of the tire's lug nuts.

Henthorn says Lynn dropped a lug nut that somehow rolled all the way under the Jeep, causing Lynn to go retrieve it.

"They're on a gravel surface ... Lug nuts don't move very far when you drop them on a gravel surface," Wheat explained. "How that lug nut got underneath there just doesn't make sense."

"That's certainly is suspicious to me," said Thomas.

"Do you believe, as you sit across from me right now, that Harold Henthorn has gotten away with murder in Lynn's case?" Van Sant asked.

"I think there's a very good chance that he has," Thomas replied.

In December 2014, shortly before her term as coroner ended, Thomas' suspicions led her to make a dramatic decision.

"I don't believe that Lynn Henthorn got justice," she said.

Thomas changed the manner of death in Lynn Henthorn's case from "accident" to "undetermined."

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office also reopened Lynn's case, but has not charged Harold Henthorn with any crime.

Meanwhile, federal investigators looking into the 2012 fatal fall of Henthorn's second wife, Toni, were zeroing in on him. They interviewed Daniel Jarvis, the friend who briefly lived in the Henthorn house.

"She asked me what Harold had told me about his job and I gave her the details of he said he was a fundraising consultant for ... nonprofits," Jarvis told Van Sant.

The investigator listened to Jarvis' story, and then presented some jaw dropping news.

"She said, 'Let me go ahead and tell you something, Harold has not worked in 20 years.' And it was kind of like a bomb exploded," he said.

"Federal investigators have come out and proven ... he had no income at all, that he wasn't raising any money," Maass said. "But he was telling everybody that he was this incredibly successful entrepreneur and businessman who was raising all this money for various organizations."


Henthorn reportedly told others that Toni knew he wasn't working -- a claim Toni's family does not believe as they say Harold controlled the finances.

Law enforcement also thinks the time when Toni was accidently struck in the head at the family's cabin may have actually been the first time Henthorn tried to kill her.

Everyone wanted answers from Harold and he wasn't talking.

"I wanted to give you another opportunity to explain what's going on," Maass told Henthorn. "I just want to give you a chance to..."

"Talk to my attorney," Henthorn told Maass from his car. "I really don't appreciate you coming on my property like this."

"Federal authorities do not believe that Harold Henthorn is any kind of hard-luck husband who's just a victim of circumstance," Mass told Van Sant. "They think he is a killer."

A killer, they believe, with a motive and a bizarre business model: collecting life insurance proceeds worth millions; nearly $645,000 on Lynn and potentially millions on Toni.

"Do authorities believe that Harold had basically started up a cottage industry here -- marry someone, get life insurance, and off the wife?" Van Sant asked Maass.


"They've connected the dots that way," he replied.

And Grace Rishell, Henthorn's ex-sister- in-law, thinks she could have been part of that industry --something she learned when the FBI told her about a secret $400,000 life insurance policy Harold had taken out on her. Grace says Harold forged her signature, making himself the sole beneficiary.

"That was his doing," she told Van Sant. "I did not authorize that policy."

"You die, he profits?"

"He profits." Grace Rishell said in tears.

"What do you think he was up to?" Van Sant asked.

"I think it's logical to conclude that he was planning on taking my life at some point," she said.

"You potentially were going to be victim number three?"

"Yeah," Grace Rishell said. "He's a dangerous man. ...He needs to be behind bars."

Finally, in November of 2014, Harold Henthorn was arrested and charged by federal authorities with the first-degree murder of Toni.

And justice for Toni could bring justice for Lynn Henthorn. A judge ruled the circumstances surrounding Lynn's death can be presented at Harold's trial for Toni's murder.

"She didn't deserve to be crushed under a Jeep out here," Lynn's brother, Kevin Rishell said.

"It will strengthen the case enormously for Toni to have Lynn's case added in," said Lisanne Bales.

And in September, three years after Toni's death, Harold Henthorn's trial for her murder began.

"Going into this trial, I'm really thinking, this is a tossup," Maass said. "You have no eyewitnesses, there's no confession. So ... you're wondering if there's one holdout juror, if one person doesn't buy circumstantial evidence, can the government really sell this case?"

HAROLD HENTHORN ON TRIAL

"There is a lot of interest in Denver ... and frankly around the world in this trial because the circumstances are so unusual. A husband whose two wives die in these freak accidents," said Denver reporter Brian Maass.

The murder trial of Harold Henthorn, where cameras were not allowed, begins with the prosecution laying out its circumstantial case.

"They portray Harold Henthorn as an abject liar who's lied about everything in his life. ...They say that he stood to make about $4.7 million in life insurance if Toni Henthorn died," Maass explained. "Henthorn's defense attorney stands up and says, 'My client's a very unusual, quirky guy and he has lied. ... But that doesn't necessarily make him a killer.'"

"And I just remember the defense attorney saying, 'I don't have to prove anything," juror Dawn Roberts said. "'This is up to them to prove.'"

The prosecution set out to do just that using drone footage, video, and photographs documenting the couple's ascent along the mountain trail they believe became a murder scene.

"They were able to establish a pattern of him visiting that same area because his phone, when he would text or call ... was hitting the same exact tower," said juror Marxy Miller-Zahn.

Miller-Zahn says the FBI presented evidence, using Henthorn's cell phone records, to show he made repeated scouting trips.

"And how many times did he visit that area?" Van Sant asked.

"Nine times," Miller-Zahn replied.

"And what does that tell you?"

"It tells me he's planning," said Miller-Zahn.

Also compelling to jurors was the 911 call and how evidence didn't seem to support the efforts Henthorn claims he made after climbing down the mountain to revive Toni, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"And her lipstick was still on. So ... that would be impossible," said Roberts.

And there was the testimony of Dr. Barry Bertolet, Toni's brother, about the texts he received from Henthorn.

"At one point she's slow heart rate, at another point she's fast heart rate. Well, which is it?" said Dr. Bertolet.

There was also this powerful piece of evidence -- that map taken from Henthorn's Jeep, where he had drawn an X at the very spot where Toni had fallen to her death.

Long-time friend Daniel Jarvis testified how Harold told him at Toni's funeral that the map had been made for him.

"It wasn't made for me," Jarvis said. "My belief is it was made for that time."

"And he put an X on there. So what do you think this all adds up to?" Van Sant asked.

"I think he planned to go out there and have nobody around..."

"And do what?"

"And push Toni off a cliff," said Jarvis.

"It was like he's trying to hide something," juror Jerry Taboada told Van Sant. "And trying to get Mr. Jarvis to be on his side of the story."

Another point of drama came when the prosecution presented evidence that Harold Henthorn may have stolen a precious item from his dead wife's body.

"After Toni Henthorn's fall, they find her wedding ring on her finger. Her hand is not severely damaged," Maass explained, "but the diamond is missing from the wedding ring. And it's worth about $30,000 according to Harold."

"And that area was scoured, right?" Van Sant asked.

"Scoured. Investigators combed through that area," Maass replied. "And so it was a real mystery where did the diamond go?"

henthorndiamond.jpg

But eight months later, an investigator returning to the scene suddenly found the diamond suspiciously sitting on the ground in plain sight.

"During the investigation, Harold Henthorn got a lotta pressure from the FBI about that diamond. And it got to him," Maass said. "The prosecution believes ... Harold Henthorn ... put the diamond back."

And there was that information allowed about the unusual way Henthorn's first wife, Lynn, died --crushed under that Jeep.

"Once we learned more about Lynn's death and the circumstances of her death, then it started coming together for me, that there were very many similarities in the two cases," said Miller-Zahn.

"Pattern of behavior," Van Sant commented.

"Pattern of behavior," said Miller-Zahn.

There was only one person these jurors now wanted to hear from -- someone they felt had some explaining to do.

"I wanted to hear from Harold. I would've loved to see him get on the stand and give another account to the jury of what happened that night," said Miller-Zahn.

"Yeah, and it didn't happen," said Taboada.

In fact, Henthorn's defense attorney rested his case without calling a single witness, confident jurors would see Toni's death as an accident.

Toni's brother, Barry Bertolet, looked over at Harold.

"What did you see on his face?" Van Sant asked.

"It was a defiant look," he replied. "It was like one of those 'come and get me.' And I hope we do."

The jury began its deliberation.

"We're all somewhat anxious in waiting the decision ... if there's a hung jury," said Bertolet.

Gathered together for the wait, is not just Toni's family, but Lynn's as well.

"We hope to be able to have a celebratory dinner tonight together. We are just praying that the jury will come back and get a quick verdict," said Kevin Rishell.

After 10 hours of deliberation, the jury took a vote.

"Our foreperson said ... 'Who's for guilty?' And every hand went up," said Miller-Zahn.

"Every hand?" Van Sant asked.

"Every hand -- quickly," said Miller-Zahn.

Harold Henthorn was convicted of first-degree murder.

"After the trial officially ended ... In all the years I've been doing this, I've never seen that before," Van Sant commented to juror Dawn Roberts. "What happens?"

"I went and hugged Yvonne, the mother of Toni, and just whispered in her ear, 'No mom should ever go through what you've gone through,'" she replied.

"She just said, 'As one mom to another, I feel your pain,'" said Yvonne Bertolet.


While the verdict means justice for the Bertolets, Barry's mind still wanders back to that time he saved Harold Henthorn from a certain heart attack -- the man he now knows went on to kill his sister.

"I think as a physician, you know you have this oath and obligation to do that," he said, fighting back tears. He paused before adding, "But I'd like to have my sister back."

Barry Bertolet is not alone in regrets. Lynn's family has its own.

"We grieve for the Bertolets because had we come forward at that time with more suspicions, then maybe Toni would be alive today," said Kevin Rishell.

One tragic connection they share is the fact that Henthorn spread Toni and Lynn's ashes, 17 years apart, at the same spot.

Now, 10-year-old Haley Henthorn is the focus of attention. She is slowly learning details about her mother's death.

haleyhenthorn.jpg
Haley Henthorn, the daughter of Harold and Toni, is living with family friends in Colorado. Toni's brother, BarryBertolet, and his wife, Paula, pictured here with Haley, are working through the courts to adopt her andbring her to Mississippi, the place both they and Toni called home.
Barry Bertolet

She has been living with family friends in Colorado. Barry and Paula Bertolet are working through the courts to bring Haley to Mississippi, the place her mother considered home.

"Where might she end up?" Van Sant asked.

"Hopefully right here," Bertolet said, pointing to the space between he and his wife, Paula. "Right there."

"You'd like to adopt her?"

"Yes," said Paula Bertolet.

"Absolutely," Barry Bertolet said. "And that she can be in a place where she's loved by family and grow up in an environment where everybody knew her mom as intelligent, smart, as a hero. ... I want her to know who her mom really was."


Henthorn will be sentenced on December 8. He faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole.

His attorneys plan to appeal the verdict.

Henthorn declined "48 Hours"' request for an interview.

  • Peter Van Sant

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"