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Family Of Henthorn's First Wife Speaks

DENVER (CBS4) - The family of Harold Henthorn's first wife, Sandra Lynn Rishell, is speaking out for the first time about the woman's mysterious 1995 death, suggesting they no longer believe her death was an accident.

"We are grateful that an investigation into Lynn's case has been re-opened," Lynn Rishell's family said in a statement released this week to CBS4. The family has not made any public statement about the case until now.

The family said there are "long-dormant questions about Lynn's death."

Sandra Lynn Rishell, 37, was married to Harold Henthorn, but she died in May 1995. According to Henthorn, he and his wife were driving at night on Highway 67 in Douglas County when he said his right front tire felt soft. He said when he stopped to change the tire, his wife crawled under the Jeep to retrieve a lug nut. Henthorn said the jack slipped, and the vehicle landed on her. She died early the next morning. Six days later, the Douglas County Sheriff's Department closed its investigation, saying what happened to her was an accident. Harold Henthorn, the only witness, collected nearly $500,000 in life insurance from his wife's death. Evidence in the case was then returned to Harold Henthorn.

Harold Henthorn and Sandra Lynn Rishell
Harold Henthorn and Sandra Lynn Rishell (courtesy to CBS)

The case resurfaced in 2012 after Henthorn's second wife, Toni, died in a freak accident in Rocky Mountain National Park. Toni Henthorn fell 140 feet to her death during an anniversary hike. Harold Henthorn, again the only witness, said his wife was taking a picture when she tumbled to her death. Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Harold Henthorn for premeditated murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bond. The Douglas County Sheriff's Department reopened its investigation into Lynn Henthorn's death in October 2012 after a CBS4 Investigation began asking questions about the case.

Harold Henthorn, Toni Henthorn
Harold and Toni Henthorn (courtesy to CBS)

The statement released to CBS4 this week came from Sandra Lynn Rishell's siblings, Kevin Rishell, Eric Rishell and Lisanne Rishell Bales.

"Our family has known Harold Henthorn for 40 years -- first as a college friend, then as our sister Sandra Lynn's husband. When we learned of Toni's death two years ago, we were shocked and saddened," the family said. "At the same time, however, the baffling circumstances surrounding Toni's death gave us a strong sense of déjà vu. As the investigation into Toni's death progressed, it became clear that Harold Henthorn was not the man we thought we knew, and that he had in fact been lying to us for many years."

Sandra Lynn Henthorn
Sandra Lynn Henthorn (credit: CBS)

Eric Rishell declined to elaborate on how the Rishell family now believes Henthorn had lied to them.

"Toni's death and subsequent investigation have renewed long-dormant questions about Lynn's death. Believing it is more than justified, we are grateful that an investigation into Lynn's case has been re-opened. We continue to hope that the truth will come to light in the deaths of Toni and Lynn, and that justice will be served."

The Rishell family is now urging anyone who might have information on Lynn's death to contact the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.

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