An Aurora dentist bought arsenic and cyanide days before his wife was poisoned to death, searched online about how to poison someone and was having an affair, police alleged in his arrest affidavit.
James Craig, 45, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder Sunday, hours after his wife, Angela Craig, 43, was taken off life support and died. Investigators believe James Craig put poison in protein shakes he made for his wife, according to the affidavit.
Aurora police Division Chief Mark Hildebrand called Angela Craig’s death “a heinous, complex and calculated murder” in a statement released following her husband’s arrest.
Weeks before Angela died, James Craig used a communal computer at his workplace to conduct numerous searches about poison, investigators alleged in the 52-page affidavit.
The searches on YouTube and Google included: “how many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human,” “Is Arsenic Detectable in Autopsy,” “Top 5 Undetectable Poisons That Show No Signs of Foul Play,” “how to make poison,” and “The Top 10 Deadliest Plants (They Can Kill You),” according to the affidavit.
The couple — parents to six children — had been having marital troubles before Angela’s sudden severe sickness this month. James Craig ordered arsenic from Amazon.com on Feb. 27, police allege. He received the package on March 4, and two days later, his wife was admitted to a hospital with symptoms that aligned with poisoning, according to the affidavit. She was released that day, but returned to the hospital on March 9.
While she was hospitalized, James Craig ordered two additional poisons — cyanide and oleandrin — from medical suppliers, according to the affidavit. (He never received the oleandrin because the package was intercepted by police.)
Also while his wife was hospitalized, a woman with whom James Craig had exchanged sexually explicit messages flew from Texas into Colorado to visit him, police alleged.
“It appears James was flying this woman into Denver while his wife and the mother of his children was dying in the hospital,” Aurora police detective Bobbi Olson wrote in the affidavit.
After staying in the hospital from March 9 through Tuesday, Angela Craig went home, but she returned to the hospital on Wednesday. She was put in intensive care and on a ventilator, and then declared brain dead on Saturday. She was then taken off life support, Aurora police spokesman Joe Moylan said.
While his wife was hospitalized on March 9, James Craig ordered potassium cyanide from a medical supplier. He told the seller that he was a surgeon and intended to use the potassium cyanide for a medical procedure. He gave the seller his dental license number and work email, but used a newly created personal email, “firstname.lastname@example.org,” to order the poison, according to police.
He had the cyanide sent to his dental office, Summerbrook Dental Group, where he told his colleagues he’d be receiving a personal package that they should not open. However, when the package arrived on March 13, an employee at the office did open the package — not realizing it was the expected personal package — and saw it contained potassium cyanide, according to the affidavit.
The employee resealed the package and gave it to James Craig, who did not know the package had been opened. When confronted later about the cyanide purchase, James Craig told his business partner the package was a ring he’d purchased as a surprise for his wife, according to the affidavit.
He later admitted to the business partner that the package contained potassium cyanide, but claimed his wife had asked him to order it, according to the affidavit. He told the partner that he “didn’t think she would actually take it,” and that the situation was similar to a game of “chicken,” according to the affidavit.
The business partner told James Craig to stop talking and hire a lawyer. The next day, on March 15, James Craig sent a long text message to the business partner and asked the man not to tell anyone about their conversation.
“I have to hire a homicide attorney to make sure I don’t end up being painted in the light that you know some hungry DA is anxious to paint me in because I am most likely going to be charged even though that is absolutely NOT what happened,” James Craig wrote in the text message, which was included in the affidavit.
The police affidavit also includes screenshots of text messages between Angela Craig and her husband in which they discuss her illness and care. Angela Craig first started feeling sick after drinking a protein shake that her husband made for her on March 6, according to the affidavit.
“I feel drugged,” Angela Craig wrote to her husband on March 6.
“Given our history I know that must be triggering,” he responded. “Just for the record, I didn’t drug you. I am super worried though. You really looked pale before I left. Like in your lips even.”
Angela Craig’s sister later told police that James Craig had several years ago drugged his wife without her knowledge, in an incident in which he said he wanted to die by suicide and drugged her to keep her from interfering in his plan, according to the affidavit. The sister also told police Craig had had several affairs and that the couple was struggling financially.
Court records show Summerbrook Dental Group filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2020 after defaulting on a $1.7 million loan.
The sister also told police that she’d pushed James Craig to have an autopsy performed on his wife, in case she’d died of a genetic condition that might have been passed on to one of their children, but that he refused.
“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,” Detective Olson wrote in the affidavit.
An autopsy will be performed by the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office but results are expected to take several weeks.
Angela Craig’s family could not be reached for comment Monday.
The Craigs were the parents of six children, according to a biography posted on the dental office’s website. James Craig studied at Brigham Young University, graduated from dental school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and taught courses at the University of Missouri Dental School, according to the biography. The dental office’s website was no longer working Monday.
James Craig appeared in court for the first time Monday. He was denied bond and is scheduled to return to court Thursday.
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