Love, Spies, & Cyanide Raises New Questions in the Unsolved Mystery Disappearance of Thomas Riha and Death of Galya Tannenbaum

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on July 5, 2022

Ocean Coast Productions Presents Docuseries Featuring Colorado Cold Case

The Colorado cold case that gripped the nation from 1969 until 1971 is now the subject of a new documentary, Love, Spies, and Cyanide, by Ocean Coast Production and Executive Producers James Norton, R.K. Price, and Michelle Loveall. Love, Spies, and Cyanide resurfaces the scandalous details of the strange disappearance of renowned University of Colorado Russian History Professor, Thomas Riha, and the death of his alleged mistress Galya Tannenbaum.

In this thought-provoking highly controversial documentary, the filmmakers challenge the law enforcement’s original findings and explore the mysteries of one of the Cold War’s most intriguing spy vs spy cases. Professor Thomas Riha, a suspected Russian counter spy, and Galya Tannenbaum, an alleged U.S. Intelligence Agent, were entangled in a mysterious love affair before Riha’s disappearance. Speculation also arose that Riha may have been bisexual, and that Galya had murdered Riha, although his body was never found.

With no proof of involvement in Riha’s disappearance, the single mother of four was charged with forging his name to documents and confined to the Colorado Asylum for the Criminally Insane after accepting an ill-advised insanity plea.

“Galya’s harsh sentencing did not match the alleged crime,” said Michelle Loveall, executive producer. “With no one to advocate for her, Galya was indefinitely locked

away. While incarcerated at the asylum, Galya died of cyanide poisoning under suspicious circumstances, although her death was quickly ruled a suicide.”

Many believe Galya herself was merely a victim and murdered to silence her.

“To this day the case remains unsolved and Galya’s part in the events that unfurled is nebulous, at best,” said James Norton, executive producer and Galya’s only son.

The filmmakers explore Galya’s mysterious life and ask if she was a mastermind spy and a cold-blooded killer, or simply a single mother who like so many marginalized people of her time fell victim to her own government’s prejudices or foreign enemies who silenced her.

Love, Spies, and Cyanide questions why those at the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the FBI and CIA, abruptly abandoned their investigations shortly after Galya’s death.

“There is an abundance of speculation and questions as to why the government did not pursue further investigation into Galya’s death,” said R. K. Price, executive producer and author of Love, Spies, & Cyanide: Galya’s Story. “Some believe the investigation was stopped because Galya was a convenient scapegoat, while others believe Galya was part of a top-secret spy ring which, if uncovered, would compromise national security. Either way, her family and the rest of America deserve to know the truth.”

When the case reached international acclaim chaos and disparity erupted between the FBI and the CIA, causing the warring agencies to break off communications. The breakdown in communication between the government agencies lasted for decades, continuing until the tragedy of 9/11.

This multi-part series also examines how the standoff between the agencies impacted national security during the height of the Cold War and for many years to follow. Congressional panels were convened. Tensions grew. Like today, relations between the U.S. and Russia were on the brink.

Love, Spies, and Cyanide presents the inside story of the two enigmatic figures, explores their relationship, and brings to light new evidence surrounding these spellbinding events.

“Today, even 50+years later, the government still refuses to release its files which keeps one of the most talked about cases in Colorado and the nation’s history a deep dark secret,” Norton said. “Our documentary uncovers many of those secrets while searching for answers to a mystery that rocked the country then and remains unsolved today.”

Ocean Coast Productions

Indie Producers James Norton, Michelle Loveall and R.K. Price joined forces in ways nearly as unusual as the case they have documented in this film series. In 1971 Price, a Colorado reporter at the time, broke the original story of Galya’s death. He wrote a historical novel about it and Riha’s disappearance. James Norton, Galya’s only son, a successful California businessman, never believed his mother committed suicide. Neither does Price. Norton read Price’s book but wanted a factual, not fictional account of his mother’s death being told. Michelle, also a prominent California businesswoman and lover of Cold Case mysteries, stepped in. She helped bring Norton and Price together to collaborate on the production. The rest is history. Three years later and hundreds of hours of research, interviews, and filming they have a story to tell unlike none other.

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

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