COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho –68-year-old Larry Isenberg was found dead in Lake Coeur d’Alene on March 1, 2018, and now, according to newly filed court documents, there’s evidence to show he may have been murdered, and that members of his wife’s family may have been involved.
The search warrant filed today in Spokane Superior Court also links for the first time official suspicions that Isenberg’s death had something to do with his wife Lori Isenberg’s spiraling financial troubles, involving her employer – the North Idaho Housing Coalition – where she was Executive Director.
Lori first reported Larry missing on February 13th – the same day the Coeur d’Alene Press first reported that Lori was “no longer employed with the organization” which had subsequently launched an internal audit in search of “accounting irregularities.”
A few days later, in a letter exclusively obtained by KHQ, Lori Isenberg claimed that Larry fell into the lake during a sunrise cruise, while trying to fix some engine trouble. This new search warrant adds new details from Lori’s account: that Larry “had been sick recently and possibly had a medical episode before falling into the water.”
But according to autopsy results referenced in this new filing, there were no visible signs Larry had suffered a stroke and no evidence of drowning. Instead, the search warrant indicates Larry was found to have lethal levels of diphenhydramine in his system, the antihistamine found in Benadryl and other allergy medications. Normal dosages of diphenhydramine are between 100-1,000ng; Larry’s level was more than 7,000ng.
The court documents do not go into detail about who purchased the drug, or how it got in Larry’s system. They do say that Lori had made repeated mentions to friends in the days prior to the boating accident that he had been feeling sick, possibly from the flu or from a heart problem. However, statements made by Larry’s friends and his doctor indicate he was in good health and hadn’t made any mention of illness before his death.
The search warrant also states that at the beginning of January, 2018 – about a month before Larry’s death – handwritten changes were made to his will that left 80% of Larry’s estate to Lori’s children and 20% to Larry’s children. Larry and Lori were married in 2004. Larry brought two adult children to the marriage, and Lori brought six adult children to the marriage. Court documents say the couple’s children described their marriage as perfect, but a family friend, Michael Holmes, later told detectives that “the only tension he knew of between Larry and Lori was her constant enabling and giving of money to help out her daughters.”
The documents filed in court today indicate that one or more of Lori’s daughters may have had knowledge of or were involved in the alleged “accounting irregularities” at the North Idaho Housing Coalition that cost Lori her job. According to the search warrant, police have found texts on Lori Isenberg’s phone to several of her daughters, mentioning payouts of money and concerns about “it messing up the business account.”
Additionally, the documents state Lori Isenberg had arranged to do the book-keeping at NIHC herself “to save money,” and asked to have one of her daughter’s hired by NIHC to do data entry, while creating companies under another daughter’s name that later billed the coalition for work “that has not been verified or approved.”
Today’s search warrant targets two of Lori’s daughters who are under investigation for Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Murder, and Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Theft. The documents say police want to examine the women’s cell phones for any evidence “which could exclude or include them as participants and/or level of participation in the investigated crimes.”
In one of Lori’s last communications with NICH, dated February 14th – the day after Larry’s death – she sought to shield her daughters from any blame in connection with the misused money, while asking for the coalition’s silence in the developing scandal, which had grown to include forged signatures on checks, unauthorized credit card purchases and incomplete accounting records.
“As you know by now, Larry and I had an accident yesterday. It is so hard to write this through my tears. I was in the hospital most of the day, but I am home now. All of his family is coming here. PLEASE let them have this time without the shadow of my actions. I know you think I am hiding something by not giving you my computer, but I am not. Once we get through Larry’s memorial, I will meet with you and tell you everything I did. We really did have that trip planned with friends and I could not take the time to get all of my personal things off the computer before we left for our Florida vacation. I tried to do some, but it was hard while we were vacationing. I started again when we got home, but then Larry got really sick with the flu. He was feeling better yesterday and he felt bad that I had spent these past days since we got back taking care of him so he wanted to take me on a date to watch the sunrise on the lake and go out to breakfast at the Resort. We never made it there. If it makes you more comfortable to have my computer while I go through these next couple of weeks, I will have one of my daughters bring it to you. Maybe you can have someone clone it for me? I used it as my personal computer also and it has all of my banking, financial, photos and personal information on it. I want to get this over with. I will show you everything I did and I can pay all of it back as soon as I can sell my home. I am a horrible person, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t punish Larry’s family and his memory with this now. I know you have no reason to trust me, but I swear I do not want to hide what’s on the computer because it proves I was the one doing the invoices for TMT and J&B Services. I need to be punished for what I did- though I think God just did that by taking away the best part of my life. The only reason I hired Peter was to keep you from contacting my daughter about what I had done using their names. I have no misconception that I could hide any of it once you started looking- and I have not tried to. I just was not able to get my personal things off of it first, but now I don’t care. I will pay everything back and accept my punishment without causing you the need for long investigations. Just please don’t punish my family for what I did. I do not have my phone, so please email me back so I can grieve without worrying about my actions being public and damaging Larry’s memorial.
Lori Isenberg has not been charged in her husband Larry’s death. But in late February, she was arrested on 40 counts of forgery and one count of grand theft for allegedly embezzling a half-million dollars from the North Idaho Housing Coalition. She was set for arraignment in May, but failed to show up for her hearing, and hasn’t been seen since, prompting the judge to issue a $500,000 bench warrant for her arrest.