Wake Robin resident tried to poison others

Wake Robin resident tried to poison others

"According to a release from the USAO and the FBI, "(Miller) stated that she manufactured ricin in the kitchen of her Wake Robin residence and, to test its potency, placed the ricin in the food or beverages of other residents".

Miller, 70, made her first appearance in federal court on Friday. Judge John Conroy noted that Miller had a "lengthy mental health history", but did not elaborate. She was placed in custody and was scheduled to be in court again on Wednesday.

Betty Miller was charged on Thursday with violating USA laws that prohibit possessing biological weapons after tests revealed that she had manufactured ricin powder at the Wake Robin retirement home in Shelburne, Vermont.

The Vermont Health Department said it was aware of one person who likely became ill with ricin poisoning found in the retirement community. After harvesting 30-40 castor beans growing on the property of Wake Robin, she then made her ricin powder using instructions from the internet.

Investigators searched Miller's home and discovered a pill bottle labeled "ricin" alongside other bottles labeled "apple seed", "cherry seed" and "yew seed", according to the complaint. A bottle labeled "ricin" was half full with a yellowish white powder, which tests later confirmed was ricin, the complaint says. Investigators also found instructions for making ricin that apparently were from the internet, the affidavit said. On at least three occasions she exposed other residents to ricin to test it, the documents say. Through inhalation and ingestion, it can cause a person to develop breathing difficulties, fever, cough, nausea, tightness in the chest vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, seizures, blood in the urine, and within days it can cause the liver, spleen, and kidneys to stop working resulting in death. Initial symptoms of ricin poisoning are most likely to occur within four to 10 hours of exposure. The resident of the apartment in question is now involved with the criminal justice system and will not be returning to Wake Robin.

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"We have received assurances from the VT Department of Health and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that no one's health is at risk", Wake Robin President and CEO Patrick McKee said in the statement.

"This was an isolated incident".

Officials say first responders were called to the senior living facility in Shelburne Tuesday for possible ricin exposure.

Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans and can be turned into a powder, mist or pellet, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Ricin is a highly toxic substance that only takes a few grains the size of table salt to kill a human.

On Nov. 30, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents with special training relating to hazardous material conducted searches of Wake Robin and Miller's vehicle.

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