HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) - Probate court documents show a Highlands Ranch woman who mysteriously fell to her death in 2012 was insured for $4.5 million and someone made a claim for part of that insurance money less than 36 hours after her death.
Dr. Toni Henthorn, 50, a well-liked ophthalmologist, fell to her death on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 29, 2012. She was on an anniversary weekend hike on Deer Mountain with her husband, Harold Henthorn, who was the only witness to her death.
Harold Henthorn said his wife was preparing to take a picture when she fell about 50 feet. The coroner's office has ruled "homicide cannot be excluded ... she fell or was pushed down a cliff," according to the Larimer County coroner's report.
Harold Henthorn told authorities his wife slipped off a rock outcropping and fell to her death. But the FBI and the National Park Service have been investigating the case ever since. No charges have been filed and there have been no arrests.
Adding to the mystery, Harold Henthorn's first wife, Sandra Lynn Henthorn, also died in a mysterious accident in Douglas County 19 years ago. A car fell on top of her during a tire change on a rural mountain road at night. Harold Henthorn was the only witness to that accident. In that case, one source says Harold Henthorn had taken out a $300,000 insurance policy on his first wife.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says it has now re-opened its investigation into that 1995 case. Originally, detectives closed the case after a one week investigation, ruling the death of Sandra Lynn Henthorn was an accident.
Newly reviewed probate records in the case of Toni Henthorn reveal there were three life insurance policies on Toni Henthorn, each valued at $1.5 million. According to a special trustee status report, one of the policies named the Harold and Toni Henthorn Trust as the beneficiary.
"According to the claims department, a claim was sent in for the policy on Oct. 1, 2012. No payment was made. The account has been blocked pending further order of the court."
The trustee's accounting does not identify who attempted to file a claim for the policy. While Toni Henthorn died Sept. 29, 2012, the incident occurred late in the day and her body was not removed from Rocky Mountain National Park until the next day, Sunday, Sept. 30.
The attempted claim on the insurance policy came on the first business day after her death, before her body had been cremated and days before a memorial service was held for Dr. Henthorn. A second policy for $1.5 million names Harold Henthorn as the primary beneficiary and a third policy for $1.5 million names the Toni Henthorn Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust as the beneficiary.
Harold Henthorn has consistently declined to comment on his wife's death in several conversations with CBS4. His probate attorney, William Bostrom, also declined to comment when contacted earlier this month by CBS4.
However, probate records reviewed by CBS4 also show that Harold Henthorn has been uncooperative to the point a judge set a hearing for Aug. 8 to decide if Henthorn should be held in contempt. In multiple court filings, the court appointed special administrator, Gary Clexton, has noted "a lack of cooperation from Mr. Henthorn."
In one filing, Clexton repeatedly notes "repeated requests to Mr. Henthorn" to explain where his late wife's money went "have been ignored." Harold Henthorn is the personal representative for his wife's estate, according to court documents.
The court file also shows that on several occasions, Harold Henthorn has asked a judge to seal probate files.
"Unfettered access to this case threatens significant harm to (Henthorn's daughter's) and Harold's privacy interests with no public benefit," Henthorn argued in a July request to seal the case.
Henthorn argued that public access to the probate case harms his daughter at school "and may unfairly stigmatize her." Henthorn argued that if the file remains open, "continued news coverage is likely without a court order. Such stories may include misinformation ... or irrelevant information that could harm Harold in a future civil or criminal trial regarding Toni's death."
That suggestion is the first public proclamation by Harold Henthorn that he expects he may be indicted or sued in connection with his wife's death.
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