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Monday, July 15, 2024

Kouri D Richins: Utah Family Accuses Author of Ruin after Purchasing Her Home

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The family alleges financial difficulties and a string of health issues since buying a property from Kouri Richins, who is implicated in her husband’s death. They had to vacate the house due to severe mold infestation.

A family from Utah is pointing fingers at Kouri Richins, a children’s grief author, who is suspected of murdering her husband by lacing his drink with fentanyl. They accuse her of causing them economic distress since they bought a renovated house from her, which they had to abandon due to dangerously high mold levels and a series of unexplained health problems.

Taryn Wright, 38, voiced her grievances during a “Dateline” interview about her legal case against Richins, expressing that they are just innocent casualties of her harmful actions.

The “dangerous” levels of mold in the home that Alec and Taryn Wright bought three years back from Richins’ real estate firm have pushed them to the brink. Having to pay for a house they can’t occupy, and the rent for their current residence, has left them financially strained, they revealed to “Dateline.”

Six months before Richins was charged with the murder of Eric Richins on March 4, 2022, the couple filed a lawsuit against her and her real estate firm.

Richins’ attorneys have refuted the murder charges, arguing in a court submission that there’s insufficient proof to sustain the accusations. Following her husband’s death, Richins authored a children’s book on grief titled “Are You With Me?”.

The civil lawsuit filed by the Wrights in Utah’s Fourth Judicial District Court accuses Richins of contract breach and fraud. The charges claim that Richins made false statements about the house’s livability and worth “carelessly and with no regard for the truth.”

The couple, a bank manager and a stay-at-home mother, want Richins to fund the repairs and damages resulting from a variety of ailments they claim started after they moved into the nearly 2,000-square-foot house in January 2020.

Richins’ attorneys have denied the allegations in a court submission earlier this year. Richins Realty, her company, conducted a “thorough disclosure,” the submission states, suggesting that a “reasonable inspection by an ordinary prudent buyer” could have uncovered the alleged defects of the home.

Richins’ attorney overseeing the civil case refused to comment, directing a journalist to public filings in which they dismissed the homeowners’ allegations.

Sinking in Financial Obligations

The house located in Heber City, southeast of Salt Lake City, was the beginning of Richins’ house-flipping venture that started in 2019. However, in a short span of two years, the business suffered major financial setbacks. Richins found herself owing $1.8 million to her lenders by February 2022. Prosecutors in the related court filing in June asserted that as her financial situation worsened, Richins resorted to “fraud, theft, forgery” and “deception”. They claimed she fraudulently used power of attorney to secure a $250,000 credit line against her husband’s premarital property, who was a successful stone masonry businessperson.

The Heber City house was the first one she bought, from a man named Val Maynard, for her business. Maynard, who had been living in the house for quite some time and was ready to sell after his wife’s death, accepted her offer of $215,000, pleased with the price. He had informed Richins about the extensive water damage the house had sustained and the need for significant repairs. Despite this, Richins and an assumed foreman of the work crew didn’t seem deterred by the house’s dilapidated state during their initial visit. “They seemed entirely undisturbed by it”, Maynard recollects.

After the purchase, subcontractors started comprehensive renovations on the property, despite seeming lack of necessary permits for such extensive remodeling, according to the declaration given by a general contractor residing across the street, who is also part of the Wrights’ lawsuit.

A Dream Home?

In October 2019, the house was put up for sale. Taryn Wright remembers that the house was portrayed as being in perfect condition. Even Maynard was impressed with the transformation, likening it to a home makeover show. “It seemed like a amazing renovation”, he added.

The Wrights didn’t find any issues during their inspection and claimed they were not informed about the previous water damage or any plumbing or roof problems. They purchased the house in January of the following year for $409,000, envisioning it as their dream home where they could host barbecues, spend quality time with family and enjoy the stunning view. However, their dream started to crumble when they noticed a musty odor in the basement after the first rainfall that spring.

The Wright’s discovered mold behind a newly placed dresser in their son’s room, a revelation that emerged after a series of unexplained health issues such as asthma, fungal infections, joint pain, and mental confusion. They assert in their lawsuit that these health problems resulted from exposure to the mold. Despite numerous visits to the doctor, they never received a definitive diagnosis.

After discovering the mold, the Wrights attempted to rectify the situation by fixing the infected drywall and replacing improperly installed windows, as pointed out in the lawsuit. However, the mold problem recurred. A local siding company identified a faulty roof as the root cause, highlighting its holes, rotting sides, and deteriorating soffit and fascia boards.

A mold inspection done in August 2022, revealed serious mold infestation in the basement with spores spread across the entire house. A recent test by Envirobiomics found the presence of several hazardous mold types, with some samples showing a hundred times the normal level. While the tests don’t measure toxicity per se, co-owner Gianni Rossini has highlighted that greater mold quantity increases the risk of potential health impacts.

Despite the lack of specific federal standards for mold or spore exposure, Christopher Bloom from the National Center for Healthy Housing, an organization aiding people dealing with mold, confirmed that mold interactions with humans are still under research. The couple vacated their mold-infected home last year, moving into a relative’s rental property, and have been struggling to get in touch with Kouri Richins, the previous homeowner, to discuss remediation solutions. Evidence suggests that Richins was aware of the mold issue before the sale of the house.

With their lawsuit as their final recourse and the heavy financial burden they’ve endured due to their home’s condition, the Wrights face the possibility of financial devastation. They were optimistic about their lawsuit’s outcome and the potential recovery of their losses, but their situation appears bleak following charges of murder against Richins.

Lindsay Born
Lindsay Born
I am Lindsay Born. My passion is to write about new businesses, leadership and capture interesting stories. I am quick in research and craft better stories.

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