It’s been nearly four years since Larry Isenberg died on Lake Coeur d’Alene, and five months since his wife Lori was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for his murder.
A two-hour “Dateline” special airing Friday night will use new interviews with the Isenberg family and law enforcement to detangle the story of Lori Isenberg, and how and why she poisoned her husband to keep him from finding out about her embezzlement scandals at work.
“What happened that early morning on the lake was certainly bizarre and terrible and the apparent immediate cause was like nothing I’d ever encountered,” NBC correspondent and host Keith Morrison said in an email to The Spokesman-Review. “So we took a deeper look, with investigators, colleagues and family members, in an effort to understand.”
Divers found Larry Isenberg’s body in the lake in March 2018, two weeks after he was reporting missing. A week after her 68-year-old husband went missing, Lori Isenberg wrote in a letter to friends he was inspecting their boat motor when he fell into the water. But when the medical examiner found a deadly amount of Benadryl in Larry Isenberg’s system, and no signs of stroke or drowning, Lori Isenberg’s story raised questions.
Lori Isenberg stopped working at the North Idaho Housing Coalition days before her husband’s disappearance. The coalition said it was conducting an audit; weeks later, Lori Isenberg was charged with embezzlement in regard to a wire fraud case.
Isenberg claimed at her sentencing hearing in May that the morning her husband died, she had laced her own drink with the Benadryl with plans to die by suicide because she knew the fraud would be exposed. Larry Isenberg was never supposed to take the laced drink, she told the court. His death was an accident, she said.
Prosecutors – along with Larry Isenberg’s son and several of Isenberg’s children – publicly doubted Isenberg’s version of events. They said they believed she wanted to keep her husband from learning of her fraud, of which she was convicted in 2019.
“When it was impossible to hide these actions any longer, she killed him,” Larry Isenberg’s son Dean Isenberg said at Isenberg’s sentencing. “To know that my father and best friend is no longer alive because of other mistakes and lack of accountability has been a sickening black pit in my heart and soul for the last three years and four months. It is a pain that I likely will never heal from.”
For the “Dateline” special, Morrison interviewed several family members , including her daughter Amber Barnes, as well as Dean Isenberg.
“I regret not saying more in the beginning. I regret not talking to the investigators. I regret not standing up for Larry … We loved Larry, too, and she took him from us, too,” Barnes said in a clip from the “Dateline” interview.
Retired Kootenai County Sheriff’s Detective Brad Maskell, Lori’s daughter Chrislyn Woolston and Lori’s former managers Amy Evans and Kerri Thoreson also spoke on the case during the special, which will air at 9 p.m. on KHQ.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.