Friday, 15 December, 2017

Officials investigating ricin found in retirement apartment

Wake Robin recently closed on $67 million in financing Wake Robin recently closed on $67 million in financing
Howard Terry | 03 December, 2017, 00:57

A 70-year-old woman was arrested Thursday after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said she was making poison that is considered a weapon of mass destruction in her retirement home residence and attempting to infect other residents.

"On November 27, 2017, Ms. Miller indicated to health care providers that she had attempted to poison other Wake Robin residents using homemade ricin, which she had placed in multiple servings of other residents' food and beverages over a period of weeks", wrote FBI Special Agent Mark Emmons in an affidavit filed at U.S. District Court in Burlington. Following instructions obtained online, Miller manufactured a total of between 2 and 3 tablespoons of Ricin on two separate occasions in the kitchen of her residence.

The FBI said none of the residents reported symptoms consistent with ricin poisoning.

A resident of the Wake Robin retirement community, Miller was made her initial appearance in a court in Burlington on Friday after she was charged with possession of a biological weapon.

She is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday afternoon. Miller said she was working on getting a lawyer.

The results were also confirmed Wednesday morning after a test was done by the Vermont Department of Health.

Investigators say Miller told them on at least three occasions, she had exposed other residents to ricin she had produced.

Symptoms of ricin exposure typically occur within four to 10 hours and can include difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea, heavy sweating and tightness in the chest.

The next hearing date was set for 11 a.m. on December 6 to determine probable cause for the charge against Miller and to review whether she will remain in custody while she awaits a trial.

A team made of members from the state's Hazardous Material Response Team and the Vermont National Guard's 15th Civil Support Team went into Miller's residence at Wake Robin to look for suspicious powders and test for ricin.

The Health Department said Friday there is one person who likely became ill from ricin exposure, but said no one is now sick as a result of the poison.

Investigators said they found the ricin in a pill bottle half-filled with powder and labeled 'ricin.' That bottle was sitting in a basket placed in a kitchen cabinet of Miller's apartment and placed amidst other pill bottles, investigators said. In a written statement released Friday by its public relations firm, Wake Robin's President and Chief Executive Patrick McKee, described the chain of events and said state and federal investigators have now left the campus. Miller stated she chose to test the effectiveness of the Ricin on other residents of Wake Robin. Ingestion of the poison causes vomiting, bloody diarrhea and hallucinations, according to health officials. The safety and security of Wake Robin residents and staff are ALWAYS our highest priority.

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