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Colorado dentist accused of poisoning wife searched 'how to make murder look like a heart attack,' officials say

A judge ruled Wednesday there was enough evidence for the case to proceed toward a trial.
/ Source: The Associated Press

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Shortly after beginning an affair, a Colorado dentist accused of killing his wife searched online for answers to questions such as “is arsenic detectable in an autopsy?” and “how to make murder look like a heart attack,” police said.

Days later, James Craig’s wife, Angela Craig, turned to Google to try to figure out why she was experiencing symptoms like vertigo, shaking and cold lips, and she searched for doctors who could help her, District Attorney John Kellner said Wednesday in a court hearing on the evidence in the case.

“This is a person who is tragically being slowly poisoned by her husband,” he said.

Angela and James Craig.
Angela and James Craig.Facebook

While Craig’s lawyers argued there was no direct evidence that he put poison in his wife’s protein shakes, as police allege, and accused the lead detective of being biased against him, Judge Shay Whitaker ruled at the end of the hearing that there was enough evidence for the case to proceed toward a trial.

She noted that Craig is alleged to have bought poisons online just before Angela Craig experienced her mysterious symptoms.

Toxicology tests showed that Angela Craig died because she had been poisoned with cyanide and tetrahydrozoline, a substance found in over-the-counter eye drops, Arapahoe County coroner Kelly Lear testified during the hearing.

Craig, dressed in an orange jail uniform, sat at the table with his three lawyers, listening to testimony in a courtroom filled with Angela Craig’s relatives as well as his parents, who declined to talk.

Angela Craig died March 18 after being taken off life support during her third trip to the hospital. She was married to her husband for 23 years and was the mother of six children, according to her obituary.

As she languished in the hospital, with doctors unable to figure out what was wrong, police alleged her husband was meeting another woman, fellow dentist Karin Cain, who flew from Texas to visit him.

Police began investigating James Craig after his dental practice partner and friend, Ryan Redfearn, told a nurse that Craig had ordered potassium cyanide even though they did not need it for their work, according to an arrest warrant laying out evidence gathered by investigators.

Cain, an orthodontist, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she had been in the process of divorcing her husband of almost 30 years when she met James Craig at a dental conference in February. She said they were together for three weeks. Cain said she didn’t willingly have a relationship with someone who was married and she doesn’t like being called Craig’s “mistress.”

“I don’t like that label,” Cain said. “If I had known what was true, I would not have been with this person.”

Asked whether she thought Craig killed his wife to be with her, Cain said they hadn’t been planning a future together.

“There’s no way I’m motive,” she said.

Investigators believe James Craig put arsenic in one of the protein shakes he routinely made for his wife for their workouts on March 6 and then, after she survived, he ordered a rush shipment of potassium cyanide that he told the supplier was needed for a surgery, according to court documents.

James Craig had asked an office manager not to open that package, but another employee did, leading to its discovery and eventual disclosure to authorities, Craig’s arrest affidavit says.

James Craig in court, in Aurora, Colo., on March 3, 2023.
James Craig in court in Aurora, Colo., on March 3.KUSA

Neither the affidavit nor testimony during the hearing addressed how investigators believe Angela Craig was poisoned with tetrahydrozoline. The lead detective in the case, Bobbi Olson, testified that testing was still being conducted on an eye dropper sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Under questioning from defense attorney Andrew Ho, Olson acknowledged that FBI testing of two bottles used for shakes did not reveal any sign of cyanide or arsenic. Ho also suggested that Craig, who he said had previously tried to kill himself, had been searching online for ways to kill himself.

Outside the courtroom, Angela Craig’s brother, Mark Pray, said that he had never heard anyone want to conceal the method of a suicide.

The delivery of a third substance Craig is accused of ordering, Oleandrin, was intercepted by authorities after they began investigating him, the document says. Oleandrin is a poisonous substance found in the leaves of the oleander plant.

James Craig told Redfearn that he ordered the potassium cyanide for his wife and told a social worker that she had been suicidal and depressed since he asked for a divorce in December, although neither of their children said anything about suicide attempts, according to the arrest affidavit.

Redfearn also told investigators that James Craig was on the verge of bankruptcy and had been having problems in his marriage, according to the document. Angela Craig’s sister, Toni Kofoed, told police that James Craig had drugged his wife about five years ago with an unknown drug because he said he planned to kill himself and did not want her to be able to save him.

Kofoed believes that incident is what James Craig referenced in a series of texts between Angela and James Craig about her symptoms after she first fell ill on March 6. According to the arrest affidavit, James Craig wrote: “Given our history I know that must be triggering. Just for the record, I didn’t drug you. I am super worried though.”