Woman Arrested After Testing Toxic Substance on Senior Home Residents

Police Retiree made ricin tested it on neighbors

Police Retiree made ricin tested it on neighbors

A 70-year-old retiree in Vermont made ricin and tested the deadly toxin on her retirement home neighbors by putting it in their food or beverages, federal officials said Friday.

She is set to appear in court on Friday, Dec. 1. She was ordered to remain in custody by Judge John Conroy until pretrial detention and probable cause hearings next Wednesday citing her "very lengthy mental health history". In total, investigators said they believe she picked 30 to 40 castor beans and made two to three tablespoons of ricin following the online instructions.

Authorities say the search revealed no ricin or other hazardous material outside of Miller's residence.

The team found a yellowish powder in the bottle labeled "ricin" and initial tests - that were later confirmed by the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory - showed that the powder was ricin. During the interview, authorities said Miller stated she "had an interest in plant-based poison and had conducted internet research on how to make them".

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Investigators found a pill bottle half filled with powder labeled as ricin in a basket in the kitchen cabinet of Miller's apartment, along with other pill bottles labeled as "apple seed", "cherry seed" and "yew seed", the complaint said.

Federal officials say no other residents reported symptoms of ricin poisoning.

If enough is ingested it can cause nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, and death by collapse of the circulatory system. Respiratory distress and other symptoms can occur within hours.

Wake Robin President and CEO Patrick McKee said the case was "an isolated incident" and that Miller would not be returning to the retirement community. A Wake Robin spokeswoman said residents were safe.

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The FBI said none of the residents reported symptoms consistent with ricin poisoning. Miller stated she made a decision to test the effectiveness of the Ricin on other residents of Wake Robin.

Officials say first responders were called to the senior living facility in Shelburne Tuesday for possible ricin exposure. Ricin is a highly toxic substance that only takes a few grains the size of table salt to kill a human. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine met with staff and residents to discuss the situation and answer questions, he said.

This post was updated at 5:44 p.m. with information from the U.S. Attorney's Office and Wake Robin. "We will continue to maintain our community's safety and protect their privacy through this time".

According to the search warrant in the investigation, in addition to her unit number and last name, Miller's apartment door also had a sign saying: "I wish I could be the person my dog thinks I am".

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