Dentist Poisoned Wife to Death to Start ‘New Life’ With Paramour, Cops Allege
A Colorado dentist accused of fatally poisoning his wife had been trading “intimate” and “sexually explicit” emails with an orthodontist in Austin, Texas, who had flown into town to see him while his spouse was sick in the hospital, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast.
James Toliver Craig intended “to end his wife’s life by searching for ways to kill someone undetected, providing her poisons that align with her hospitalized symptoms, and working on starting a new life with [his lover],” the affidavit states. (The Daily Beast has redacted the woman’s name from the document.)
Craig, 45, had a canister of deadly potassium cyanide delivered to his office two days before 43-year-old Angela Craig was admitted to the hospital for a suspected poisoning, according to the affidavit, which contains disturbing new claims about the days before the mother of six’s murder. She was taken off life support on Sunday.
Craig had searched online for “buy Oleander,” a poisonous plant, “how many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human,” and “Is Arsenic Detectable in Autopsy?” and accessed an article titled: “6 Deadly ‘Undetectable’ Poisons (and How to Detect Them),” the affidavit states, noting that a shipment of arsenic had been delivered to Craig’s house on March 4. (Craig also ordered $330 worth of oleandrin, an oleander derivative studied for use in treating cancer, from a scientific research company, which was intercepted by police, it says.)
At one point, a sales rep at a scientific supply company told Craig they would need a “usage statement” before they could send him the cyanide potassium, the affidavit states. Craig, using his personal Gmail account, said he was “a surgeon performing a craniofacial reconstruction,” and would be using the chemical to “check and see if it will help with the layering of alternative metals,” it goes on. If it worked, the affidavit says, Craig claimed the technique would be “published as a paper in the National Institutes of Health.”
Remarkably, this wasn’t the first time Craig had tried to poison his wife, Angela, according to the affidavit. Her sister told cops the 45-year-old “had multiple affairs with several women… had been addicted to pornography since he was a teenager, and drugged Angela approximately five to six years ago,” it states.
“Angela told [her sister] that James drugged her (an unknown drug) because he planned to go into their bathroom and give himself a lethal injection of something and commit suicide,” the affidavit continues. “James told Angela he drugged her so she wouldn’t find him nor be able to save him, which would give the lethal drugs time to kill him.”
Craig and Angela, 43, were having marital problems, and Craig “was on the verge of bankruptcy” for a second time, according to the affidavit. Angela told her sister “several times over the past 16 years that she was going to leave James but said that James always convinced her to stay,” the affidavit states. “Angela told [her sister] that James had ‘run the dental office into the ground’ and that their finances were dire. Angela complained to [her sister] that James recently traveled to Las Vegas, where she said he gambled away over $2,000.”
On Wednesday, Craig drove Angela to an Aurora hospital, telling medical staff that his wife was suffering from headaches and dizziness, which family members said she had been complaining about for some time. But she almost immediately took a turn for the worse, and was declared medically brain dead on Sunday afternoon, Aurora police said in a statement.
The two had discussed her symptoms previously, with Craig playing the part of a dutifully concerned husband, according to text messages included in the affidavit.
Angela had visited the hospital at least twice before Wednesday, but as a person close to the family previously told The Daily Beast, relatives thought her symptoms could be a sinus infection, because Angela was susceptible to them.
Included in the arrest warrant affidavit is a copy of a text message from Craig to his business partner’s wife, reading, “If it wasn’t my wife this would be kind of a fun puzzle to try to work out!”
After Angela’s sudden death, a longtime friend and business partner of Craig’s told investigators he thought Angela had been poisoned, according to the affidavit.
On March 6, Craig told the practice’s office manager that he would be receiving a package and told her not to open it, the affidavit states. That morning, Craig had prepared a protein shake for Angela before they worked out together.
“James gave her extra protein because she was feeling sluggish,” the affidavit states. “After the workout, Angela became faint and dizzy, and ultimately James took Angela to the hospital.”
On March 13, a package arrived. Another employee had opened it, and the office manager decided to take a peek. Inside, she found “a bio-hazard sticker and what said ‘Potassium Cyanide’ on a circular canister,” the affidavit continues.
The office manager sealed up the package, and googled “potassium cyanide.” She then realized that Angela’s symptoms seemed to match those of cyanide poisoning.
On March 15, when the office manager heard that Angela was in the hospital, she called a colleague, who notified Craig’s business partner—who was on the way to the hospital to lend moral support to Craig—about the package. When he arrived, Craig’s business partner “spoke with one of the attending nurses regarding his suspicion that Angela was the possible victim of poisoning,” the affidavit goes on.
He told the nurse that Craig had recently ordered potassium cyanide for their dental practice, but that “there was no medical reason or purpose” to do so.
“As a mandatory reporter, the nurse called the police, and an investigation ensued,” the affidavit states.
A short time later, Craig called his business partner and said he had “heard some disturbing information,” asking if the other man “had said anything to the hospital staff.”
He said he knew about the package, to which Craig replied it was “a ring for Angela and that he wanted to surprise her.” The business partner told Craig he knew it wasn’t a ring, and asked why he would buy potassium cyanide, according to the affidavit.
“James eventually recanted and admitted the package contained Potassium Cyanide but claimed that Angela asked him to order it,” the affidavit continues, stating that Craig claimed to his business partner that Angela had been suicidal.
“James claimed that Angela couldn’t order the Potassium Cyanide because she didn't have the proper credentials. James told [his business partner] he ordered the Potassium Cyanide, but he ‘didn’t think she [Angela] would actually take it.’ James described the situation as being similar to a game of ‘chicken.’ At that point, [Craig’s business partner] told James to stop talking and get a lawyer.”
In a series of emails viewed by investigators, Craig allegedly made travel plans for his mistress to visit him on dates that lined up almost precisely with Angela’s various hospitalizations.
The woman was scheduled to visit Denver from March 8-10, which corresponded with Angela’s previous hospital stay from March 9-14, according to the affidavit. The second flight itinerary was for March 16-20, beginning the day Angela went to the hospital and later died. The flight was purchased on March 4, the same date that the arsenic was delivered to Craig’s home, the affidavit states.
Craig told Angela’s sister that he would “not allow” an autopsy, according to the affidavit. She pleaded with him to change his mind, it says, arguing that if it was genetic, knowing now could prevent one of their kids from suffering later.
“James said he felt if they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her when she was alive he wouldn’t let them poke her more when she was dead,” the affidavit states.
A March 16 email to Craig from his alleged mistress “suggested that James had told her something had happened to Angela,” according to the affidavit.
It says she told Craig “how sorry she was for him and that she wished she was helping him, not pulling him away. She stated she knew it had to be so hard what he was going through and that she wanted to be there for him but did not want to mix in with his family and friends and pretend to be only a friend when there was something more.”
A 2021 press release described Craig as “happily married” to Angela.
“They have six children, and they all enjoy the outdoors, especially camping, snowboarding, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking,” said the announcement, which trumpeted Craig’s “leadership, commitment, and professional excellence” as a dental provider. “They also enjoy visiting theme parks and are often traveling to Disney, Universal, and Sea World.”
Craig’s practice, Summerbrook Dental, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2021, court records show.
A patient of Craig’s for the past 10 years told The Daily Beast on Monday that the dentist was “very kind and pleasant and this came as a shock to us.”
“I never saw anything unusual about him, so this was completely unexpected,” Josh Stoker said. “His dental work and mannerisms were top notch... Although it is pretty disturbing considering he was inside my mouth while he was allegedly poisoning his wife to death.”
Angela was “a phenomenal woman, outgoing, and the best mother you could imagine,” the source close to the family told The Daily Beast. “She was very supportive of her husband, even working in his practice during financial difficulties.”
Now, her loved ones will have to endure a murder trial.
“There’s a lot of grief,” the source said, “and a lot of anger.”
Investigators believe there is more evidence implicating Craig in his wife’s murder, according to the affidavit. He “ordered multiple poisons that were not known to have been located during the searches of his residence or business,” it says, noting, “James has not attempted to speak with police regarding what occurred with his wife but has made statements that he had the answers to what happened. James has only repeatedly asked for his phone back.”
In a statement, Aurora PD Division Chief Mark Hildebrand said: “When the suspicious details of this case came to light, our team of officers and homicide detectives tirelessly worked to uncover the truth behind the victim’s sudden illness and death. It was quickly discovered this was in fact a heinous, complex and calculated murder. I am very proud of our Major Crimes Homicide Unit’s hard work in solving this case and pursuing justice for the victim.”
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