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Idaho woman who ‘murdered her husband had tried to poison him once before on Florida trip’

An Idaho woman who is awaiting trial for allegedly poisoning her husband with a lethal dose of Benadryl and then throwing his body over the side of their boat is suspected of making a prior attempt on his life during a trip to Florida. 

Court documents that were filed earlier this month in the case of Lori Isenberg contend that the 66-year-old woman, who is currently serving a sentence on an unrelated embezzlement conviction, had previously tried to poison her husband with the same drug that ultimately killed him.

She also allegedly researched ‘Florida water depths, currents, tides, drowning, boat accidents and boat rentals.’ 

Isenberg was indicted in March on murder charges in the death of her husband, retired forester Larry Isenberg, 68, who was reported missing and presumed drowned in Lake Coeur d’Alene in February 2018.

His wife told officers he had fallen off the boat while trying to fix the motor.

But when Larry’s body was recovered from the lake 16 days later, an autopsy showed that he had not died by drowning, but had been poisoned with Benadryl.

According to the newly filed court records obtained by the station KHQ, Lori began to take steps to kill her husband so he would not find out that she had been stealing large sums of money from the non-profit organization helping low-income families where she worked. 

Lori feared that Larry would have divorced her and kept some, if not all, of their jointly-owned property worth about $1.5million, according to the documents.

Before heading to Lake Coeur d’Alene for what was supposed to be a romantic boat ride on February 13, 2018, prosecutors said that Lori had looked into conditions on Lake Pend Oreille, including overnight boating.   

In the immediate aftermath of her husband’s death, Lori liquidated all of their joint accounts and transferred other community property to herself, her daughters and her sister, evidence presented by the prosecution alleged. 

Isenberg has pleaded not guilty to a count of first-degree murder and is being held in the Kootenai County jail on $2million bond. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that her trial will be delayed again due to the coronavirus outbreak, reported Coeur d’Alene Post Falls. 

The state Supreme Court previously ordered that all criminal jury trials will be delayed until August 3, but later pushed back the date to September 14. 

The bizarre case began unfolding when the Isenbergs set off on their boat on Lake Coeur d’Alene on the morning of February 13 2018. 

Lori called police a few hours later claiming her husband had accidentally fallen overboard while fixing the boat’s motor.

She made the call two hours after the alleged incident, saying she had left her phone onshore.

She told officers her husband wasn’t feeling well and likely had a medical episode, causing him to fall into the water on that fateful day.

Detectives later said Lori’s account of her husband’s health didn’t match up to that of his friends and questions were also raised over messages sent from Larry’s phone in the hours leading up to his disappearance and death.

One friend said they had received a text message from Larry’s phone that morning saying he felt better following his bout with the flu where he thought he might have suffered a ‘mini-stroke’.

That friend said Lori had told him the same thing during a conversation but that Larry himself had made no mention of illness before.

A message from Larry that day also included a ‘thumbs-up’ emoji – something that seemed unusual as Larry never used emojis but Lori regularly did. 

On February 18, five days after he went missing, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office received two reports of suspicious behavior at the Isenberg’s home where callers said people were moving things out of the home and overheard Lori saying she needed to sell the home as fast as possible.

Then, just days before her husband’s body was discovered, the suspected killer was arrested for embezzling more than $570,000 from her workplace, the non-profit North Idaho Housing Coalition (NIHC), after an accountant found checks with board members’ names forged on them. 

One of her adult daughters, Amber Hosking, also worked for the organization.

They were both later fired from their roles.

Hosking and Lori’s other adult daughter from a previous marriage – Jessica Barnes – then also became suspects in their stepfather’s death after Larry’s will was found doctored with handwritten changes that altered the percentages his children would receive.

The victim’s friends said this seemed strange, amid tensions between the married couple over giving her daughters money.

The plot thickened further when the coroner’s report listed the 68-year-old’s cause of death as diphenhydramine toxicity, a fatal overdose of over-the-counter medicine Benadryl.

Larry had 7,100 nanograms of diphenhydramine in his system, while 100 nanograms to 1,000 nanograms is considered normal.

In May 2019, while still under investigation for Larry’s death, Lori was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison.

She pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud and was sentenced to five years in prison. Her two daughters were also sentenced for assisting their mother in the crimes.

Officers arrested Lori on February 24 for murder while she is serving time on the embezzlement charges.   

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