A North Dakota woman has been charged with fatally poisoning her boyfriend with antifreeze in what authorities say may be a plot to claim part of his $30 million inheritance .
The woman, Ina Thea Kenoyer, 47, of Minot, ND, was charged with murder Monday in the Sept. 5 death of Steven Edward Riley, Jr., 51, her boyfriend of 10 years.
Ms. Kenoyer was being held at the Ward County Detention Center in Minot, a city about 110 miles north of the state capital, Bismarck. She was due to appear in court on Wednesday; it was unclear whether she had a lawyer.
On September 4, emergency responders were called to the couple’s Minot home, where Mr. Riley was found unresponsive, according to an affidavit prepared by Erin Bonney, an officer with the Minot Police Department, and filed Monday in District Court of Ward County. .
Mr. Riley was taken to a local emergency room and then transferred to a hospital in Bismarck, where he died on September 5.
Ms. Kenoyer initially told authorities that her boyfriend had suffered heat stroke, but an autopsy later revealed that Mr. Riley had died of poisoning from ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze. .
Mr. Riley’s friends and relatives said they believed Ms. Kenoyer had poisoned Mr. Riley with antifreeze, according to the affidavit, and told authorities that she made comments before and after her died about his poisoning with this substance.
Investigators learned that there had been discord in the couple’s relationship; Mr. Riley was set to receive a large inheritance, estimated at around $30 million, and had planned to leave Ms. Kenoyer once he claimed it.
More flags were raised after one of Ms. Kenoyer’s friends said he saw her throwing Mr. Riley’s belongings outside their home the day he became ill, according to the affidavit. The friend added that Ms. Kenoyer was upset because Mr. Riley was going to take his inheritance and leave her, he said.
Ms. Kenoyer told investigators after Mr. Riley’s death that she was entitled to part of the inheritance because she was his “common law” wife and that she planned to split the money with Ms. .Riley.
Some states recognize “De facto” marriages, in which a long-term couple can be considered married without having gone through the formal legal procedure for marriage. But North Dakota is not one of those states, and Ms. Kenoyer, according to the affidavit, was “furious” when investigators explained this.
On September 3, the day before he was hospitalized, Mr. Riley had gone to an airport to meet with an attorney to finalize his receipt of the inheritance, according to the affidavit.
He was accompanied by Ms. Kenoyer and friends, who said Mr. Riley suddenly began to feel ill, complaining of feeling drunk even though he had not consumed any alcohol.
He reported stomach pains and nearly collapsed, according to the affidavit.
“The witness said they wanted to get John Doe medical treatment, but Ina Thea Kenoyer was adamant that John Doe was suffering from heat stroke and just needed to go home and rest after the ‘airport,’ according to the affidavit, which identified Mr. Riley. under the pseudonym John Doe.
The next morning, Mr. Riley’s friend, Wesley Torgerson, stopped by the couple’s home to check on Mr. Riley. Ms. Kenoyer told him that Mr. Riley was at a walk-in clinic.
“Torgerson went to every walk-in clinic in Minot as well as the emergency room and learned that John Doe had not been to any of those locations,” the affidavit states.
Ms. Kenoyer told investigators that Mr. Riley had been drinking alcohol all day on September 3 and had suffered heat stroke the day before, on September 2, although the statement from a friend who had been with Mr. Riley on September 2 was confirmed. 2 contradicted his claim, and a toxicology report later revealed that Mr. Riley had no alcohol in his system at the time of his death.
Authorities searched the couple’s home and discovered a bottle of Windex window cleaner in the living room containing a green liquid believed to be antifreeze, according to court records.
They also found a glass Coors Light beer bottle and a plastic cup, both suspected of containing antifreeze, in the garage, according to the affidavit.
Ms. Kenoyer suggested to investigators various scenarios in which her boyfriend could have accidentally ingested antifreeze, including “smoking a cigarette that could have fallen into the antifreeze in the garage.”
She also claimed that heatstroke symptoms “mimic poisoning,” according to the affidavit.
Ms. Kenoyer also admitted that she served Mr. Riley sweet tea throughout the day on September 3, according to the affidavit. Antifreeze is known to be easily hidden in sugary drinks, investigators said.
According to investigators, Mr. Riley was alone with Ms. Kenoyer at their home for at least 12 hours after the airport episode before she sought medical attention.
Ms Kenoyer is the latest person accused of poisoning a romantic partner this year.