Produced by Ruth Chenetz and Lindsey Schwartz
[This story previously aired on Nov. 21, 2015. It was updated on June 24, 2017]
Rocky Mountain National Park is a place known for its soaring beauty, majestic wildlife and inspiring serenity, but in September of 2012, it was a site of heartbreak.
The story of how love might have gone murderously wrong begins with a joyful time.
Dr. Toni Bertolet, a sophisticated Southern belle, met Harold Henthorn in 1999. Toni’s brother, Barry, was pleased his 37-year-old sister had found the kind of man she was looking for.
“I was extraordinarily happy for my sister. …It appeared that she found her true love. And if she was happy, I was happy,” Barry Bertolet told “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant. “She experimented with Christian Matchmakers. …And she met this guy named Harold Henthorn. … Her comments were that he was very kind, he was very romantic, he was very smart.”
Both had lost their first spouse under dramatically different circumstances. Toni’s marriage had ended in divorce, while Harold’s first wife died in a tragic incident.
“What did you know about Harold’s first wife, Lynn?” Van Sant asked Barry Bertolet.
“When we had asked Harold about that, the only response that we had was that she died in a car accident,” he replied.
Bertolet’s wife, Paula, not wanting to upset Harold, didn’t want to pry.
“I thought it was just a bad car wreck and she died,” she said. “So we didn’t wanna ask him to elaborate. We just took it for face value.”
“He seemed like a good match for Toni,” Bob Bertolet added.
Toni’s parents, Bob and Yvonne, had a good feeling when they first met Harold.
“He said, ‘I was just smitten by Toni,'” said Yvonne Bertolet.
It was easy to be taken with Toni. She was attractive and successful — a prominent eye doctor and surgeon in Jackson, Mississippi. Mostly though, Toni was known for her caring nature.