By: Stephanie Butzer
AURORA, Colo. (KMGH) — An Aurora dentist accused of poisoning his wife searched online for undetectable poisons before purchasing both arsenic and cyanide, according to an affidavit.
Aurora police arrested James Toliver Craig, 45, on Sunday morning. He was booked in jail around 2 a.m. on a charge of first-degree murder after deliberation in connection with the death of his 43-year-old wife Angela Craig, who died in a hospital Saturday.
James Craig practices dentistry at Summerbrook Dental Group, which is located at 14991 E. Hampden Avenue in Aurora, according to his website.
At the time of his arrest, police called the crime a “heinous, complex and calculated murder.”
Craig had his first hearing on Monday, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The judge set a no-bond hold and a mandatory protection order will prevent him from seeing his children. His next court appearance was set for March 23.
On Monday, KMGH also obtained the 52-page arrest affidavit for James Craig.
The document reads that on March 15 around 11:10 a.m., Angela Craig went to University Hospital with a severe headache. She also said she was dizzy, the affidavit reads. Her brother came with her, and James Craig joined them later.
Around 2 p.m., Angela Craig had a seizure and her condition began to deteriorate. She suffered from lack of oxygen, had no pupil reaction and had increased intracranial pressure, according to the affidavit. She was placed on life support and her medical team could not determine what condition she was suffering with or what caused the rapid decline in her health.
The names of all friends and co-workers have been changed in this story.
The Craigs’ friends, Person A, who is a business partner of James Craig and also a dentist, and his wife Person B, who has a Ph.D in nursing, went to the hospital after learning of Angela Craig’s condition.
This was not the first time this had happened, Person B said when she later talked with authorities. She said Angela Craig first became sick on March 6 and was released the same day. This happened again on March 9 and she was released on March 14. Doctors could not determine what caused her symptoms.
On this second hospital visit, Person B said she texted James Craig to keep up with his wife’s condition and, as a nurse, to potentially help diagnose her, according to the affidavit.
The below screenshot from Person B’s phone shows their conversation, with a red box around a section investigators paid extra attention to.
Person B repeatedly asked for updates, if they needed anything and how James Craig was doing. She asked multiple medical questions, which he answered.
On March 15, as Person A and Person B drove to the hospital to see Anglea Craig during her third hospital visit, an office manager contacted Person A and said she was contacted by another office manager of Summerbrook Dental Group. This other manager had told her that on March 6 — the first day Angela Craig became sick and went to the hospital — she was working late at the dental office and saw James Craig return to the office after hours. The office manager said she had seen him at an exam room computer with the lights off, which she described as odd since she knew he had his own office with his own computer, plus a personal laptop he took to and from the office, the affidavit reads.
About 30 minutes after she left, James Craig texted that office manager to say he would soon receive a personal package in the mail and she should not open it, according to the affidavit. That package arrived on March 13 and had been opened by another employee. When the office manager looked inside, she saw “a biohazard sticker and what said ‘potassium cyanide’ on a circular canister,” the document reads. She sealed it back up and gave it to James Craig. When she later researched potassium cyanide and its effect on a person, she realized Angela Craig had the same symptoms.
She called the other office manager on March 15 after learning Angela Craig was back in the hospital. That manager then called Person A as he was en route to the hospital to see Angela Craig.
After this call, Person A and Person B arrived at the hospital in separate cars. They briefly spoke with James Craig, who then stepped away for a doctor’s call, according to the affidavit. He was visibly crying after speaking with doctors.
After James Craig had stepped away, Person A — having just heard the account from the office manager — told one of the attending nurses that he was suspicious that Angela Craig may have been poisoned. He said James Craig had recently ordered potassium cyanide for their dental practice, but there was no medical reason to have it there.
That nurse then called police and the investigation into James Craig began, according to the affidavit.
The Aurora Police Department’s Major Crimes Homicide Unit took over from there.
After some time at the hospital on March 15, Person A and Person B left and sat in their car. Person A then answered a call from James Craig, which connected to the car’s Bluetooth speakers. James Craig said he had “heard ‘some disturbing information’ and then asked (Person A) if he had said anything to the hospital staff,” according to the affidavit.
Person A told James Craig that he had, and that he was aware of the package delivered to the office. James Craig replied that the package was a ring to surprise his wife — an explanation that Person rejected. He asked James Craig why he would buy the potassium cyanide. James Craig recanted and admitted the package had indeed contained that chemical, but that his wife had asked him to order it since she didn’t have the proper credentials. He said he “didn’t think she would actually take it,” according to the affidavit.
At this point, Person A told James Craig to stop talking and hire a lawyer.
The affidavit reads that that same day, March 15, Person A received a text from James Craig that made “an urgent plea” for him not to talk to anybody about their prior discussion, “including any law enforcement officers,” the affidavit reads. The text read, “You will do more damage than good to my family by continuing to insert yourself into this. Angela is gone and I am devastated,” according to the affidavit.
“(Person A), I understand why you did what you did. I do. I get it. But if you had come to me personally, man-to-man instead of talking to everyone else about what you thought you knew, I might have let you in on some details that would have made you less likely to cause this horrible storm,” a text reads, as screenshotted in the affidavit. “Man (Person A), if you had ONLY put me higher on your list of priorities instead of putting everyone else’s opinions and gossip ahead of me! For that I am very, very mad at you.”
Around 12:30 a.m. the following morning, March 16, a detective responded to the hospital to speak with staff. The detective learned about the decline of Angela Craig’s health. As of that time, she was still on life support with no brain activity. Her prognosis was poor, according to the affidavit.
That same day — March 16 — police spoke with the officer manager of Summerbrook Dental Group. She said she knew that on the morning of March 6 — the first day Angela Craig went to the hospital — his wife had exercised with James Craig. He had made her a protein shake. After working out, she said she felt faint and dizzy. He then took her to the hospital, according to the affidavit.
Around that time, the office manager began to “notice off or strange things” around the office, the document reads. At the end of the day on March 6, she described what she had previously told Person A — that James Craig was in a back medical area using a computer. She also told police about the text James Craig had sent her about a package coming soon and his instructions not to open it. Around this same time, Angela Craig visited the hospital for the first time because she could not stop vomiting.
During this time, the office manager recalled conversations with James Craig about how he felt his wife might not survive and then he pivoted to talking about business in the office, which the manager said was “strange,” according to the affidavit.
The office manager also described what she had told Person A regarding another employee opening the package, the manager seeing the packing slip that read “potassium cyanide,” and then leaving the package in James Craig’s office, according to the affidavit.
She said she had never seen potassium cyanide delivered to the office and did not know what it could be used for, the affidavit reads. When she researched it, she saw the side effects of ingesting it matched Angela Craig’s symptoms.
After Angela Craig was discharged on March 14 after her second visit, which started on March 9, the office manager said James Craig mentioned that his wife had made accusations that he was poisoning her, according to the affidavit.
The office manager then learned Angela Craig was back in the hospital the following day, March 15, with the same symptoms.
During the police interview, the manager said she knew the couple was having marital problems and James Craig had recently mentioned that Angela Craig wanted a divorce.
The same day as the interview with the office manager — March 16 — police also spoke with Person A and Person B.
Person A said he and James had been business partners since August 2022 when he acquired James Craig’s dental practice, which had been struggling financially, the affidavit reads. However, the two had known each other for more than 20 years and went to dental school together.
Person A said James Craig had filed for bankruptcy in 2021 and was on the verge of it again. KMGH also obtained documents regarding a Chapter 11 bankruptcy from Summerbrook Dental Group.
In addition, he said James Craig had said he was having marital problems with his wife, according to the affidavit.
This same day, March 16, a case worker with Child Protective Services spoke with a detective about her individual meetings with James Craig and the Craig children. His bio page from the dental group website states that he has six children with his wife.
The case worker said James Craig had said “some concerning statements” and “alleged that Angela was suicidal and had been for same time,” according to the affidavit. He claimed to have revived her several times over the previous months. He also said he asked for a divorce in December 2022 and her depression and suicidal ideations had increase since then, the document reads.
The case worker said James Craig said that his wife had been intentionally overdosing and he did not report any of the incidents and did not seek professional help for her. He said he was sure her toxicology would come back positive for something, but he wasn’t sure what.
The case worker said the Craig children did not report anything about their mother’s depression or previous suicide attempts. The case worker said it seemed improbable that a suicide attempt would happen with nobody else being aware aside from her husband, the affidavit reads.
She “provided her opinion that James was attempting to build a cover story for what really happened to Angela,” the affidavit reads.
Also on March 16, a detective spoke with Person C, who is a friend of the Craig family. She told the detective that James Craig was at her Aurora residence and was going to spend the night there with his children while he waited for his two oldest children to come in from out of town. Person C said James Craig would be at the home throughout the morning.
That detective then submitted three search warrant applications and affidavits — one for the Craig home, one for the Summerbrook Dental Group office, and one for Person C’s home. All three were signed and issued.
Around 8:30 a.m. that morning, March 16, police responded to Person C’s home to speak with James Craig. He said he did not want to talk about his wife, according to the affidavit.
Police then gave him a copy of the signed search warrants for his cell phone, Angela Craig’s cell phone, his wallet and his laptop. He handed the police both phones and provided the passcodes. He said his laptop was at the office, but provided the password. He said he didn’t carry a wallet, but kept his credit cards and ID in his phone case. Police took photos of the cards, according to the affidavit.
Around 8:45 a.m. that morning, police also responded to the Craig home and executed that search warrant. Nobody was inside. They also noticed internal and external surveillance cameras. With an amended search warrant, they seized and searched these cameras, though it appeared the surveillance information would likely use a cloud-based system and not a hard drive of any kind, according to the affidavit.
In addition, multiple other items were collected from the residence. This included:
- Multiple types of powder proteins
- Multiple workout-style shakers used to drink those powder proteins
- Computer tablet
- Two different unlabeled plastic bags with white powdery substances
- Water bottle on an exercise bike
Police executed the third search warrant at the dental office around 11:45 a.m. It was closed at the time.
When police arrived, they noticed multiple cameras on the office walls. They seized the hard drive from one of the exam rooms. A laptop, which showed James Craig was the last to use it, was seized. In addition, his laptop was recovered, according to the affidavit. A portion of substances that had been vacuumed up was also seized, according to the affidavit.
A detective also located James Craig’s DEA number, which is assigned to all health care providers and allows them to write prescriptions.
While going through the two cell phones seized in the first search warrant, police found conversations between the couple about their days, their children and their activities, according to the affidavit. Angela Craig had saved her husband’s number under the name “The Boy.”
The below screenshots show their conversation on March 6, when Angela Craig first began to feel ill. In one text, she said she felt drugged.
The conversation bounced back and forth with James Craig saying he felt sorry she felt sick and hoping she felt better. As Angela Craig continued to update him on how she felt, he responded positively when she said she felt better, and concerned when she said she felt poor. When she was hospitalized, he asked questions about any medical updates, how she felt and if she needed anything from home or outside the hospital, according to the affidavit.
On March 17, detectives conducted an initial history search of the phones, laptops and James Craig’s iPad seized during the searches.
His phone was connected to the email Dinosaurjim@me.com but investigators found another possible email as email@example.com. The latter email was found from the hard drive in the dental office’s exam room. Investigators were able to locate the history of that email, which was created on Feb. 27, 2023, the affidavit reads.
The user had searched many poison-related inquiries, including “How many grams of pure arsenic will kill a human” and “Is arsenic detectable in autopsy?” He had also searched for chemical suppliers in Aurora, according to the affidavit. Investigators also found an Amazon order from Feb. 27 to be delivered to the Craig household for an item called Arsenic Metal 99.9999% Crystalline Metalloid 10 grams for Element Collection, according to the affidavit. It was a $13 order.
A description of that item said swallowing it could prove fatal.
Investigators also found additional online purchases of poison.
James Craig also searched for “buy arsenic, aurora, co,” “what can you use arsenic for” and other questions. In addition, he found a website with a page titled “Is Arsenic Detectable in Autopsy?” According to the affidavit, he also clicked on YouTube videos about making poison and a video titled “Top 5 Undetectable Poisons That Show No Sign of Foul Play,” the affidavit reads. He also clicked on a series of videos detailing how to make poison out of oleander, a toxic plant.
Another website James Craig visited had information on arsenic and cyanide, including symptoms, according to the affidavit. A video on the site explained how cyanide is difficult to detect and by the time doctors can diagnose that somebody has ingested it, it’s likely too late to save their life.
The email account attached to this search history had stopped communications with any contacts on March 16. Other orders were attached to the email, including Sigma 207810-25G from Midland Scientific. Investigators learned this is a technical term for potassium cyanide, the affidavit reads.
Shortly after this order was placed, a person with the company reached out to learn what James Craig planned to use the item for, and to inform him that they did not have it in stock, but could ship it overnight. The order had a delivery address for the dental office.
The company sent James Craig a Restricted Item Usage Statement Form to fill out about the purchase. He responded via email by saying he was a surgeon performing a craniofacial reconstruction and was using the chemical “to check and see if it will help with the layering of alternative metals” and if successful, the information would “be published as a paper in the National Institutes of Health,” according to the affidavit. He provided his license number and professional email, though he was still communicating at this point under the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“At no time is James using his professional email, to your affiant’s knowledge, to make these purchases after alleging they are for work,” the affidavit reads.
He also filled out the Restricted Item Usage Statement Form, which is dated March 9. After a delay, the company said the product had shipped on March 13, according to the affidavit. Based on the tracking number in that email, investigators confirmed it had been delivered that same day.
The affidavit notes that this matches the office manager’s timeline of finding the package in the office, already opened by another co-worker.
Police found a separate order from AdooQ BioScience for 3 Oleandrin 1mg items, which totaled $330. The invoice was dated March 10, according to the affidavit. However, this was never delivered as investigators contacted FedEx about the situation and the process was stopped.
In addition, the email@example.com email account had communicated with a woman identified as Person D. These emails were “intimate in nature and contained sexually explicit conversations,” according to the affidavit. They also contained travel plans, which showed Person D flying from Austin to Denver March 8-10. The affidavit reiterates that Angela Craig was in the hospital March 9-14.
A second travel itinerary for March 16-20 also showed a flight from Austin to Denver. This one was purchased on March 4, the same date arsenic was delivered to James Craig’s home, according to the affidavit.
On March 16, Person D sent James Craig an email explaining how sorry she felt for him and wanted to support him. She continued, saying, “I do want to give you any comfort I can but I do not feel it is right for me to mix in with all those gathering to mourn Angela either and I do not want to meet your family as a friend and try to conceal what I feel for you,” the affidavit reads. She concluded the email saying she was praying for him and loved him.
While this digital investigation was ongoing on March 17, police were also speaking with Angela Craig’s sister, Person E. The two spoke almost every day, Person E said, and during a visit in early March, she said her sister had not been sick.
During the conversation with police, Person E said the Craigs’ marriage had always been “tumultuous” and James Craig had had “multiple affairs with several women, told Angela he had been addicted to pornography since he was a teenager, and drugged Angela approximately five to six years ago,” according to the affidavit. Person E said her sister had told her that James Craig drugged her because he wanted to go into their bathroom and kill himself, and prevent her from saving him.
Person E said her sister planned to leave James Craig multiple times, but he always convinced her to stay. She added that their finances “were dire” after he ran “the dental office into the ground,” the affidavit reads. Angela Craig complained to her sister that her husband had gambled away more than $2,000 in Las Vegas recently.
Person E told police that James Craig had told her he wouldn’t let hospital staff conduct an autopsy on his wife, despite Person E’s pleas. She said she wanted one done in case her sister had had a genetic condition that could be passed down to their children.
Angela Craig was pronounced brain dead on March 18 at 4:29 p.m., according to the affidavit.
Through this investigation, police noticed many similarities between her symptoms and the effects of ingesting cyanide and arsenic, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The conclusion of the affidavit determined several aspects of the case that ultimately led to James Craig’s arrest.
“In totality, this investigation has proven that James has gone to great lengths to try and end his wife’s life,” it reads.
The conclusion, as written in the affidavit, noted the following points:
- Nobody aside from James Craig had suggested Angela Craig had suicidal ideations
- The Department of Human Services, which heard the above point from only him, said it believed he was creating a cover-up story
- James Craig had been communicating with a woman in what appeared to be a sexual relationship while his wife was dying in the hospital, and helped arrange her travel plans
- An email used to research undetectable poisons was only used from one of the dental rooms at his practice
- That email had been used to purchase arsenic, which arrived to the Craig home on March 4
- Angela Craig felt ill on March 6 and was hospitalized with symptoms consistent with arsenic ingestion. She was released later that day
- James Craig ordered Oleandrin, which was intercepted and never delivered
- On March 13, a package arrived and James Craig had instructed the office manager not to open it. This was potassium cyanide. A co-worker unaware of his instructions opened it
- Angela Craig returned home from the hospital on March 14 after being admitted on March 9
- She was back in the hospital the following day at 11 a.m. She was put on life support and did not regain brain activity before dying
- James Craig regularly made her protein shakes
- Investigators believe the poison was in these shakes
- The poisons were not located during the searches of the Craig home or dental office
The affidavit concludes by reading: “Based on the totality of the investigation, James has shown the planning and intent 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 (Person D). Your affiant finds there is more than enough preliminary evidence sufficient to arrest James Craig with premeditated first-degree murder.”
On Sunday, KMGH spoke with multiple people who said they were clients of Summerbrook Dental Group.
Andrew Orth said he was at the office the week prior and noted that he had to see a different dentist because Craig was at the hospital with his sick wife.
“He was literally the best dentist I ever had,” Orth said. “That’s why I recommended him to my mom. That’s why I recommended my brother. So, it was a large clientele that came here under that trust.”
Danielle Travis said she brought her children to that dentistry and bonded with Craig over being parents.
“My first thought was really first of his kids, and then second of his employees who have also been incredibly nice people,” Travis said. “I just can’t imagine any kids, six kids, being without a mother and potentially even being without their father and again, someone who I would have never, ever expected to be in this kind of situation.”
This story was originally published on March 20, 2023 by KMGH in Denver, an E.W. Scripps Company.