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How a suspicious package delivered to a Colorado dentist's office sparked a murder investigation

Who Poisoned Angela Craig?
Who Poisoned Angela Craig? 40:41

When Angela Craig went on life support on March 15, 2023, in Aurora, Colorado, police assigned a homicide detective to investigate her case — even as she was still alive. Three days later, and only hours after Angela Craig was declared dead, her husband, Dr. James Craig would be arrested and charged with her murder. James Craig has pleaded not guilty.

The story of why police allege James Craig murdered his wife and why police made that arrest so quickly all traces back to a package that police say was delivered to James Craig's dental office just five days before Angela Craig died.

That story of the dentist, his wife's death and that suspicious package is told by contributor Natalie Morales in "Who Poisoned Angela Craig?" — an all-new "48 Hours" now streaming on Paramount+. 

James Craig and Angela Craig
Dr. James Craig and Angela Craig Facebook

The Craigs married in 1999 and moved to Aurora where they would raise their six children. Their lives were steeped in their community—their church, their children and James Craig's dental practice, Summerbrook Dental, which was well known in Aurora.

The podcast and the podcaster  

Steffan Tubbs, a former radio host and podcaster, first met James Craig when he was a patient at Summerbrook Dental. So when Tubbs saw the news in March 2023 that Dr. Craig had been arrested for Angela's murder, he was stunned. "I couldn't believe the allegations … I couldn't believe the mugshot. There's my dentist. A mugshot," Tubbs told "48 Hours."

The 52-page arrest warrant. Aurora Police Department

Tubbs reported on James Craig's arrest in his radio show, and within days had launched a podcast to explore the alleged facts of the case. In that podcast, Tubbs reviewed the 52-page arrest warrant that police released when they charged James Craig with murder. Tubbs said of that warrant, "In nearly 34 years of being a newsman, the most unbelievable and seemingly thorough arrest affidavit I have ever read."  

Tubbs had first known James Craig as his dentist, but he got to know Craig better while working on radio ads for Summerbrook Dental, at Tubbs' former radio station. Tubbs had also met Angela Craig at those meetings and says her energy and intelligence stood out. "She was not somebody to just sit there and stay quiet. She was engaged in the dental practice," Tubbs said, adding that Angela Craig "was somebody who was talking about ideas, and their marketing, their message." Tubbs thought it was great to see such a successful family business seemingly thriving in Colorado.

Angela Craig was 43 years old when she died, and mother to those six children with James Craig. Former employees and friends told "48 Hours" that she had always seemed happy and healthy. In that warrant, police note that Angela and Jim Craig were known to work out together in the mornings, and that James would make Angela a morning protein shake as part of that daily routine.

Angela Craig's mysterious illness begins

Angela Craig's medical troubles had begun on March 6, 2023, when she first started feeling sick. According to that arrest warrant, she texted her husband that morning, writing, "I don't feel right in my head." James Craig texted her back asking, "do I need to come home?" and Angela Craig replied "No…this is just weird. I'm dizzy in my head and my eyes are working slowly and my body is responding slowly."

The warrant shows James Craig texted, "Do you get lightheaded when you stand up?" and that Angela Craig texted back, "It feels more like I feel when I take heavy meds and everything adjusts and moves slowly. Like I'm moving in thick gel. My eyes are struggling to stay focused." She later texted James Craig, "I feel drugged" and soon he did come home and took Angela Craig to the ER.

The warrant says Angela Craig was released from the ER that same day but was back at the hospital three days later, this time as an admitted patient. Angela Craig underwent a series of tests and treatments, but doctors were still struggling to figure out what was wrong. It was during that second hospital visit when a curious thing happened at Summerbrook Dental. It would become a key piece of evidence in a murder investigation.

Trial set for Colorado dentist accused of poisoning wife's protein shake 02:35

A package arrives

According to the warrant, James Craig had told his office manager that he was expecting a "personal package" and "not to open it." That package arrived on March 13, while Angela Craig was still in the hospital, and, according to the warrant, a staff member, not knowing about those instructions, had opened it. The warrant says that the office manager, closing the box back up for Dr. Craig, saw it contained a canister labeled "potassium cyanide." Police say the package was then hand delivered to Dr. Craig.

Angela Craig was released from her second hospital visit on March 14, the day after that package is alleged to have been delivered to Summerbrook Dental. She had still not been diagnosed but seemed well enough at that moment.

Unfortunately, that moment would not last. The next morning, on March 15, 2023, Angela Craig was back in the hospital, seemingly sicker than ever. She would never come out.

Police say James Craig arrived at the hospital on March 15 soon after Angela Craig but didn't stay long. The warrant says he soon went home and returned roughly an hour-and-a-half later, carrying food. Police say he then went into Angela Craig's room alone and that soon after she had a seizure and her vital signs crashed.

That's when James Craig took photos of his wife, sending them to their friend Michelle Redfearn, a trained nurse married to James Craig's business partner and friend from dental school, Ryan Redfearn. When the Redfearns got those photos and James Craig's text that read in part, "crash. intubated. doc says she's 'very very worried'" they raced to the hospital.

On their way, Ryan Redfearn would later tell police, he got a phone call from the office. That phone call was to alert Ryan Redfearn about that package marked "potassium cyanide" that a staffer said had been delivered and opened. That same employee, hearing of Angela Craig's symptoms, had Googled them, and, according to the warrant, was worried Angela Craig may have been poisoned. When the employee saw that Angela's symptoms lined up with the symptoms for cyanide poisoning, she made a phone call.

After arriving at the hospital, Ryan Redfearn would later tell police he saw James Craig crying after talking to a doctor. But Ryan Redfearn did not seem convinced those tears were real. He took a nurse aside and shared the story about that package marked "potassium cyanide" that had been delivered to James Craig just two days prior.

The warrant says that nurse, being a mandatory reporter, called police and within hours members of the homicide unit from the Aurora Police Department had launched an investigation. By this time, Angela Craig was on life support, and the outlook was grim.

A phone call between partners

Later that same day, the warrant says, Ryan Redfearn was with Michelle Redfearn in the hospital parking lot when they got a phone call from James Craig. Ryan Redfearn said James Craig asked him if he had spoken to police. Ryan Redfearn told him that he had and that he had heard about that package allegedly marked "potassium cyanide."

According to the warrant, James Craig then told Ryan Redfearn that the package contained a ring for Angela. Ryan Redfearn says he told James Craig that someone had opened that package and seen that container marked cyanide. And, according to the warrant, Ryan Redfearn soon ended that phone call, telling James Craig to "stop talking and get a lawyer."

The next morning, the warrant says, James Craig sent Ryan Redfearn  a lengthy text, writing, in part: "I want to make an urgent plea to you," it went on "Please don't talk to anyone … including any law enforcement officers. You are under no obligation to answer their questions unless you are served a subpoena and you will do more damage than good to my family by continuing to insert yourself into this."

In an interview with Natalie Morales, former Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, when asked about that text said, "I'm trying to think of all the innocent applications of the phrase, please don't talk to the police. I can't come up with any."

Still, as James Craig is awaiting trial, the defense has not yet had the chance to present its case to a jury. At a preliminary hearing in July 2023, Craig's attorney stated that he had struggled with depression in the past and had sought counseling.

Trial set for Colorado dentist accused of poisoning wife's protein shake 02:35

Utah-based defense attorney Skye Lazaro is not a part of this case, but has worked on other cases involving poison, and reviewed the records available at the time. Lazaro told Morales it's possible James Craig's defense could argue he was looking for poison not to kill Angela Craig but to kill himself. Lazaro also said she thinks the defense could argue that James Craig's arrest was rushed and that police didn't take the time to explore other theories of how Angela Craig may have died, including the possibility that Angela may have sought to die by suicide — or that James Craig had.

Lazaro also noted that during that preliminary hearing, the defense emphasized that the lead detective had acknowledged that police had not yet found evidence of poison in the materials they had tested—including bottles and syringes from the Craig's home. 

James Craig's trial for murder is scheduled to begin on Aug. 8, 2024.

And at that trial, jurors will likely hear how that accidental discovery at Summerbrook Dental led to a murder investigation and James Craig's arrest. Brauchler told Morales that what happened from there "is a testament to Ryan Redfearn" and what he told the nurse that day.

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