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Police: Woman, 70, Tested Homemade Ricin on Neighbors

Betty Miller told an FBI agent that she wanted to 'injure herself'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 2, 2017 5:00 AM CST

(Newser) – A Vermont retirement community resident made ricin and tested the deadly toxin on her neighbors by putting it on their food or in beverages over a period of weeks, investigators said. Betty Miller told an FBI agent that she wanted to "injure herself" and was testing the poison's effectiveness on other residents at the Wake Robin senior living facility, according to a criminal complaint. A handcuffed Miller, 70, made her first appearance in federal court Friday. Judge John Conroy noted that Miller had a "lengthy mental health history," but did not elaborate. Police were called to the senior community in Shelburne on Tuesday after Miller told heath care providers she had manufactured the ricin and placed it on other residents' food and beverages, the agent said in the complaint.

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The Health Department said Friday that it became aware of one person who likely became ill with ricin poisoning but said no one is currently ill with it. Miller said she harvested 30 to 40 castor beans from plants growing on Wake Robin's property and made 2 to 3 tablespoons of ricin twice in her kitchen, the complaint said. She allegedly exposed other residents to the ricin on at least three occasions. Investigators found a pill bottle half full with powder labeled as ricin in a basket in a kitchen cabinet of Miller's apartment a midst other pill bottles labeled "apple seed," ''cherry seed" and "yew seed," per the complaint. The powder tested positive for ricin, reports the AP. Investigators also found instructions for making ricin that apparently were from the internet, the affidavit said.

(Read more ricin stories.)

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