Skip navigation
pouring-antrifreeze.jpg Ivan-balvan/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Woman Accused of Poisoning Boyfriend Over Inheritance

He was reportedly planning to leave her after coming into the large sum of money.

Emotions often run high after a breakup and rash decisions are made, but one North Dakota woman took things to a whole new level, allegedly poisoning her boyfriend of 10 years with antifreeze after finding out that he planned to break up with her after receiving a large inheritance.

Ina Thea Kenoyer, 47, was charged with murder earlier this week in the Sept. 5 death of her boyfriend Steven Riley, Jr., 51, who, according to witnesses, became ill following a meeting with his attorney on Sept. 3 to collect the final amount of his $30 million inheritance.

Thea waited until day after Steven became ill before calling 911, according to police, and Steven was already unresponsive when paramedics arrived at the home. Thea’s initial story to authorities and worried friends was that Steven was just suffering from a heat stroke, however, an autopsy revealed that Steven had died of poisoning from ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze.

Financial Motives

According to reports, Thea made statements to investigators indicating that she believed she was entitled to Steven’s fortune as his common law wife and that she was planning to split the inheritance with his son. This, along with statements from friends and relatives about discord in the couple’s relationship (about Steven planning to leave Thea following his inheritance), has led investigators to believe that the crime was financially motivated.

Can She Inherit?

Some states do recognize common law marriage, which takes legal effect without the prerequisites of a marriage license or participation in a marriage ceremony, however, North Dakota isn’t one of those states.

Unfortunately for Thea, even if North Dakota did recognize such a marriage, she would be disqualified from any inheritance if found guilty of murdering Steven. “Slayer statutes are fairly uniform across the United States and eviscerate the inheritance rights of anyone (including putative spouses) who intentionally or feloniously kills the decedent,” said Benazeer “Benny” Roshan, Chair of the Probate, Trusts & Estates Litigation Group at Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles.

“It appears that Thea would be barred from receiving any of the decedent’s community or quasi-community property if she’s convicted of his murder, assuming she had any property rights in the first place. What’s also interesting in this case is the fact that Steven was set to inherit his fortune. Inheritances are typically categorized as separate property (unless comingled) and not subject to division in a marital dissolution,” she posited.

On the Rise?

Financially motivated crimes such as this one appear to be on the rise. Last week, a Minnesota doctor was charged with fatally poisoning his wife amid marriage difficulties and planning to cash in on a $500,000 life insurance policy. Meanwhile, a mother from Utah is still awaiting trial for allegedly poisoning her husband with a fentanyl-laced Moscow Mule cocktail over financial motives.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.