A man sent a birthday card laced with the deadly poison ricin to a romantic rival in hopes of winning back his ex-girlfriend, authorities say. Nicholas Helman, 19, was arrested at his home in Hatboro, outside Philadelphia, Wednesday on an attempted murder charge and other counts. Helman told a Target store co-worker earlier this month that he sent the toxic card to his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend, investigators say. The co-worker notified police, who called the recipient's home and spoke to his mother, who said her daughter was outside getting the mail at that moment. Authorities then went to the home to confiscate the card.
Helman was questioned March 7 and told investigators only that he had coated the card with a substance that resembled anthrax, authorities said in an affidavit of probable cause. He said he intended to scare his ex-girlfriend in hopes of reconciling with her. He initially was charged with terroristic threats and harassment and spent four days behind bars before making bail. Authorities said Helman had ingredients for making ricin, a poison that occurs naturally in castor beans, but that initial tests didn't turn up the toxin itself. Authorities then sent the card away for more lab tests, and prosecutors were told Tuesday that traces of ricin had been confirmed on the card. Police accompanied by hazardous materials teams and the FBI then arrested Helman. (Read more ricin stories.)