Vermont retiree made ricin, tested it on neighbors, police say

Vermont retiree made ricin, tested it on neighbors, police say

Vermont retiree made ricin, tested it on neighbors, police say

A resident of a Vermont retirement community broke bad and tested out her ricin recipe by putting the deadly toxin in her neighbors' food and drinks over the course of several weeks, according to investigators.

Betty Miller, 70, allegedly told investigators she made ricin with the intention of hurting herself. She was ordered to remain in custody by Judge John Conroy until pretrial detention and probable cause hearings next Wednesday citing her "very lengthy mental health history".

Federal officials say Miller manufactured between two and three tablespoons of ricin on two separate occasions in the kitchen of her home.

"Ms. Miller indicated her goal was to injure herself, but she wanted to test the effectiveness of the ricin on others", wrote Agent Emmons in the affidavit.

The department has confirmed that one resident was being treated at a hospital but says no one is ill with ricin poisoning.

Betty Miller, who lives in Wake Robin retirement community in Shelburne, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Thursday on suspicion that she was stockpiling the highly toxic substance which is produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant.

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.

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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. If inhaled, ricin can cause difficulty breathing. If the deadly drug is ingested, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, and seizures.

Symptoms of ricin poisoning depend on how it was taken. "The resident of the apartment in question is now involved with the criminal justice system and will not be returning to Wake Robin". She relied on instructions from the internet and used, at least in part, natural substances to make her poison.

"This was an isolated incident".

Since then, Truman said, Health Department officials have worked with Wake Robin staff to direct the cleaning and testing effort at the facility. The toxic substance was contained; no residents were evacuated. Miller stated she made a decision to test the effectiveness of the Ricin on other residents of Wake Robin. State health officials have been in touch with Wake Robin staff and administrators every day since this began.

Miller lived alone with her dog in unit 110 on the ground floor of a three-story building at Wake Robin.

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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