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Family Friends Undermine Harold Henthorn's Accounts Of Wife's Death

DENVER (CBS4) - Family friends of the Henthorn family took the stand on the third day of the murder trial for Harold Henthorn. They dramatically undermined stories and accounts Harold Henthorn told about the evening his wife, Toni, died in 2012 and about the death of his first wife in 1995.

Toni Henthorn tumbled from a cliff in Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 29, 2012, during an anniversary hike with her husband. Harold Henthorn has maintained it was an accident but prosecutors charged Henthorn with murder saying he killed his wife for $4.7 million in insurance proceeds. The trial began Tuesday in federal court in Denver.

Harold Henthorn
Harold Henthorn (credit: CBS)

Harold Henthorn told different people different versions of what happened. He told some family and friends that he was reading a text message on his phone regarding his daughter's soccer game when his wife slipped and fell nearly 140 feet to her death. But in court Thursday, Daniel Jarvis, a close family friend who viewed Harold Henthorn as a surrogate uncle, and lived with the Henthorn family for several months, said Harold Henthorn told him after the accident that he was actually talking on the phone to his daughter Haley when Toni fell.

"She just wasn't there anymore," Jarvis recounts Henthorn saying. "I was completely in shock," said Jarvis.

VIDEO: Watch the CBS4 special "Inside The Investigation: Harold Henthorn

Following the death of Toni Henthorn, Jarvis recounted Harold Henthorn telling him that he had taken out $1 million in insurance on his wife and the proceeds would benefit the couple's daughter. However evidence presented in court shows that Harold Henthorn had actually taken out about $4.7 million in insurance on his wife and the bulk of the proceeds would benefit or be controlled by him.

Jarvis also supported evidence that Henthorn lied for years about his employment status. Prosecutors say Henthorn did not work and had no income. Jarvis testified that Henthorn "said he was a fundraising consultant" raising money for churches and nonprofits. Jarvis said Henthorn would leave town on business trips "meeting with a client." Prosecutors say those business trips were actually to a nearby Panera Bread store where Henthorn would surf the Internet.

Harold Henthorn, Toni Henthorn
Harold and Toni Henthorn (credit CBS)

Earlier in the trial prosecutors showed the jury a map they found in Henthorn's Jeep with an 'X' marking the obscure spot where Toni Henthorn fell to her death. Investigators say when they confronted Henthorn about the map he was at a loss to explain it and seemed flustered.

Jarvis said several days after Toni Henthorn's death, at her memorial service, Harold Henthorn approached him saying, "They found a map, they found a map!." Jarvis said that Henthorn said, "Say I made it for you." Jarvis said he had no idea what Henthorn was talking about. He said Henthorn explained he had made the map for Jarvis but forgot to give it to him. "He said it was a really nice area and he wanted to show me a nice area he had been to."

Jarvis testified that Henthorn had never given him a map of hiking trails before but had once given him a map showing a route to Henthorn's cabin in Grand Lake.

Sandra Lynn Henthorn
Sandra Lynn Henthorn (credit: CBS)

During the afternoon a photographer and family friend, Tami Gordon, testified that Henthorn concocted a story about how his first wife died. Gordon had taken family photos for the Henthorns over the years. She said in conversation Harold Henthorn told her his first wife, Lynn, died in 1995 in a car accident. He said the car hit an icy patch, crashed into a tree and killed Lynn Henthorn. Police reports obtained by CBS4 show that Lynn Henthorn actually died when the couple's Jeep fell on her during a tire change.

Testimony is scheduled to continue next week.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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