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Retiree, 70, made ricin, tested it on neighbors, feds say

03 December, 2017, 01:56 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • The FBI was alerted to a dangerous substance at the home earlier this week and discovered a bottle labelled

The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI announced the arrest of Betty Miller on a federal criminal complaint charging her with unregistered possession of a hazardous substance, ricin. A spokesman for the USA attorney's office told CNN she actually is not eligible for a public defender and will need new counsel for her probable cause and detention hearing on Wednesday. McColgin did not object to the hearing delay or the request that Miller remain jailed. It is unclear whether Miller, who is in custody, has hired a new attorney.

Prosecutors said the 70-year-old should be a detained "because there are no conditions of release which will reasonable assure the safety of the community", a prosecutor wrote in an affidavit.

Miller was interviewed at the hospital Tuesday evening by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Vermont health officials. "Absent further information about her mental state and present intentions, the Court can not create conditions adequate to protect Ms. Miller and those around her from harm".

Miller was placed in custody and was scheduled to be in court again on Wednesday. However, Judge Conroy said she did not meet the financial qualifications for a public defender and must find her own legal representation. "I'm prepared to do that, your honor", Miller replied.

Later in the evening of November 28, authorities interviewed Miller at the UVM Medical Center. Her auto was seized and taken to the Vermont State Police impound lot in Williston.

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. (Miller apparently made her homemade version using castor beans on the retirement community's property, according to the Free Press.) The poison invades the body's cells, preventing them from creating the right proteins until they eventually die, according to the CDC. If inhaled, ricin can cause difficulty breathing.

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

Health Department spokesman Ben Truman on Friday confirmed that information but said the individual is not sick now. This was someone other than Miller who also is a Wake Robin resident but who is recovering from apparent mild exposure.

No residents reported symptoms of ricin poisoning at the time. In this case, the homemade ricin was put in food and beverages. Larger doses can result in vomiting, bloody diarrhea, severe dehydration, and death. "Miller's crime was carefully planned". Miller stated she chose to test the effectiveness of the Ricin on other residents of Wake Robin. "While she has indicated her ultimate intent was to hurt herself, she demonstrated a callous disregard for the lives of others in the process", Cowles wrote.

"This was an isolated incident". Ricin is a highly toxic substance that only takes a few grains the size of table salt to kill a human. "The affected apartment was closed off and thoroughly searched", McKee said.

The FBI said none of the residents reported symptoms consistent with ricin poisoning. The Wake Robin community has cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state health officials to ensure all of its residents are safe.

Officials say first responders were called to the senior living facility in Shelburne Tuesday for possible ricin exposure. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine met with staff and residents to discuss the situation and answer questions, he said.

According to a search warrant, investigators were allowed to seize materials and equipment involved in the ricin production, including computers and/or storage media.

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