Vermont woman held for 'testing ricin on fellow care home residents'

Castor plant

The FBI said in court papers that Miller told investigators that she had researched how to make the poison and that she had wanted to harm herself with the powder but first sprinkled it on other residents' food to test its strength.

She is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday afternoon. Judge John Conroy noted that Miller had a "lengthy mental health history", but did not elaborate.

The FBI also said Miller did not hold a registration allowing her to possess ricin. She could be charged with unregistered possession of ricin and if convicted could face up to five years in prison, according to federal law enforcement authorities.

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.

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.

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

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. During the initial investigation, a substance field tested positive for ricin, officials said. If ingested, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations and seizures.

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No residents reported symptoms of ricin poisoning at the time.

"We have received assurances from the Vermont Department of Health and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that no one's health is at risk", it said. By her own admission, she administered those substances to other residents in order to test their efficacy.

"This was an isolated incident".

Ricin is a deadly toxin derived from castor beans and has no known antidote.

First responders were called to the senior living facility in the town of Shelburne on Tuesday for possible ricin exposure. A Wake Robin spokeswoman said residents were safe. Environmental samples were taken from common areas where residents gather for meals and socializing. "It's a crime scene now", Truman said. Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine met with staff and residents to discuss the situation and answer questions, he said. State health officials have been in touch with Wake Robin staff and administrators every day since this began. He also emphasized maintaining safety and privacy.

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

This post was updated at 5:44 p.m. with information from the U.S. Attorney's Office and Wake Robin.

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