An Idaho woman is accused of killing her husband by giving him a lethal dose of Benadryl and leaving him to die in a lake where they were boating.
Laurcene Barnes Isenberg was arrested this week on a first-degree murder charge in the 2018 death of her husband Larry Isenberg, 68, whom prosecutors say died in northern Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene after his wife gave him a lethal dose of Benadryl.
Laurcene Isenberg, who goes by Lori, initially claimed her husband drowned after falling overboard during an early-morning boat ride on Feb. 13, 2018, but an autopsy showed no signs of drowning or stroke, according to a search warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court and seen by KXLY.
The Kootenai County Coroner's autopsy report showed that Larry Isenberg had a lethal level of diphenhydramine, commonly known as Benadryl, in his system. Calls and emails to the Kootenai County Coroner's Office and the Spokane County Superior Court were not immediately returned Saturday.
In the indictment obtained by BuzzFeed News, prosecutors accused Lori of killing her husband by "creating a situation whereby Larry Isenberg was submerged into Lake Coeur d'Alene thereby causing his death."
In an email to friends about the day her husband went missing, which the Coeur d'Alene Press obtained, Lori Isenberg said she and her husband had taken their boat out on the lake to see the sunrise. At some point during the ride, Larry said the motor "didn’t sound right" and began to inspect it, she wrote.
At this point, she said, her husband "looked at me with a confused look on his face and started to fall over." Lori Isenberg said she "jumped up and tried to get to him, but I tripped on the heater and banged my head and couldn’t reach him in time."
She said she began "an hour of frantic driving in all directions" to look for her husband before the boat's motor quit. She claimed she initially could not find her husband's cellphone, but eventually managed to call 911 for help, after which a boat arrived to rescue her and a search continued for her husband.
Larry Isenberg's body was found in the water on March 1, 2018, the Spokesman-Review reported.
In her email, Lori Isenberg claimed her husband had been "sick with the flu" and "not sleeping well. A text from Larry Isenberg's phone to a friend on the morning of Feb. 13 also mentioned a bout with the flu and a possible "mini-stroke," KXLY reported. The friend told police that during in-person conversations with Larry, however, he did not mention any health issues, and that during the text conversation on Feb. 13, he sent a thumbs-up emoji — despite never using emojis during texting, the friend said.
The same day Larry disappeared, reports surfaced that Lori was no longer working for the nonprofit North Idaho Housing Coalition, which she has since been charged with embezzling about $500,000 from, according to the Spokesman-Review.
Prosecutors say Lori Isenberg began stealing about $16,000 a month beginning in 2015 with the help of several of her adult daughters, the Washington Post reported. And about a month before Larry's death, in January 2018, she made changes to her husband's will that left 80% of Larry's estate to Lori's children, and 20% to his own children, according to KHQ. Larry had two adult children from a previous marriage, while Lori had six adult daughters.
While friends and family described the couple, who were married in 2004, as happy, family friend Michael Holmes later told detectives that "the only tension he knew of between Larry and Lori was her constant enabling and giving of money to help out her daughters," KHQ reported.
In an email to the housing coalition the day after her husband disappeared, Lori Isenberg wrote, "I know you think I am hiding something by not giving you my computer, but I am not. Once we get through Larry's memorial, I will meet with you and tell you everything I did."
"I will show you everything I did and I can pay all of it back as soon as I can sell my home," she continued in the email obtained by KHQ. "I am a horrible person, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don't punish Larry's family and his memory with this now."
Rather than repaying the money, however, Lori Isenberg skipped her arraignment and disappeared for weeks, prompting the judge to issue a $500,000 bench warrant.
She is expected to be arraigned on the murder charge next week.