Kansas murder suspect uses wife’s life insurance payout to buy a sex doll

Early on Halloween morning 2019, Colby Trickle called 911 saying his 26-year-old wife, Kristen Trickle, shot herself in their home in Hays, Kansas. Sergeant Brandon Hauptman from the Hays Police Department was the responding officer.  After speaking with Colby Trickle, and looking at the scene, he was suspicious. Hauptman wondered if Colby Trickle had something to do with his wife’s death. But three days later, the coroner, Dr. Lyle Noordhoek, ruled Kristen Trickle’s death a suicide. Colby Trickle was free to go on with his life, but investigators kept working the case. 

Colby Trickle, who was in the Army Reserve, cashed in on two life insurance policies for his wife totaling more than $120,000. Investigators say he spent nearly $2,000 on a life-size sex doll just two days after receiving an insurance payout.  

Kristen and Colby Trickle
Kristen and Colby Trickle

Kristen Trickle/Facebook

Detective Joshua “JB” Burkholder tells “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty, “There’s a mourning process that I think everyone needs to go through — should go through when a loved one dies —  and to have him ordering this type of doll just months after his wife’s death was concerning.” The investigation into Colby Trickle’s spending is part of this week’s all-new broadcast, “Kristen Trickle: Autopsy of the Mind,” airing Saturday, April 27, at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

When Kristen Trickle’s ‘s aunt, Delynn Rice, heard about the doll, she told Moriarty, “I was just appalled that he would use Kristen’s life insurance money for a sex doll. It just was like he bought a replacement of her with her money.”

Assistant Ellis County Attorney, Aaron Cunningham told “48 Hours” that Colby Trickle spent all $120,000 of the insurance money in about eight months. In addition to buying the life-size sex doll, he also spent thousands of dollars on video games, paying off debts, and buying music equipment in hopes of becoming a performer.

Colby Trickle would be free for almost two years while investigators built a case against him. Hauptman told “48 Hours” about seeing Colby Trickle right after he reported that Kristen Trickle had shot herself in the head. Hauptman says even though Colby Trickle appeared to be grieving his wife’s death, there were certain aspects about the scene he thought were unusual. Kristen Trickle was only wearing underwear and he told “48 Hours” that although it happens, it is unusual for women to complete a suicide that causes injury to the face. Hauptman added that the gun found at the scene seemed large for her to have fired. 

Unusual autopsy ordered in Kansas after crime scene divides investigators


Another red flag for police was Kristen Trickle’s phone alarm that kept going off at the scene that morning. Burkholder remembers silencing it. “She had set an alarm to get up, to get ready for work, and had plans for that day. A lot of times, individuals who are thinking about suicide and do commit suicide — they don’t have any plans for the day. They’re not setting alarms. It doesn’t matter when they get up,” he said.

Colby Trickle agreed to sit down and talk to investigators without a lawyer on several occasions. He shared detailed stories about intel work he claimed he did for the military and his tours to the Middle East and Central America, but when investigators inquired with the military, they were told Colby Trickle had never been deployed overseas or out of the country. Investigators say his lies, along with the inconsistencies at the scene, made them more suspicious about Colby Trickle’s account of how Kristen Trickle died.

On July 14, 2021, 21 months after Kristen Trickle’s death, Colby Trickle was charged with murder in the first degree and interfering with law enforcement. At his trial in September 2023, prosecutors told jurors about Colby Trickle’s sex doll purchase.  His mother Tina Kreutzer took the stand as a defense witness. She told jurors Colby Trickle was having nightmares and trouble sleeping after his wife’s death and says the doll was for warmth and comfort — and she didn’t think it was for sex. 

After hearing Colby Trickle’s mother testify, Kristen Trickle’s uncle, Brant Rice, told “48 Hours” he was, “Disgusted.  Just disgusted.”  And as far as needing the doll for warmth and comfort he said, “We have electric blankets we use for that. ”

Eventually jurors would hear from Dr. Ashley Christiansen, a psychologist hired by the prosecution to conduct a psychological autopsy of Kristen Trickle, essentially to look into her state of mind before her death.  Christiansen concluded Kristen Trickle was unlikely to have taken her own life.

A jury found Colby Trickle guilty. In November 2023, more than four years after Kristen Trickle died, he was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years. 

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