Vermont woman charged with making deadly poison ricin in retirement home

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Vermont woman who planned to poison herself manufactured the deadly ricin substance in the retirement home where she lived and tested it on her fellow residents, federal officials said in court papers.

Betty Miller was charged on Thursday with violating U.S. laws that prohibit possessing biological weapons after tests revealed that she had manufactured ricin powder at the Wake Robin retirement home in Shelburne, Vermont.

Federal prosecutors on Friday asked a federal judge in Burlington, Vermont, to order her held without bail, citing concerns that she could harm potential witnesses.

20 PHOTOS
Cases involving ricin throughout history
See Gallery
Cases involving ricin throughout history
UNDATED- In this undated handout image from the Metropolitan Police, April 14, 2005, is seen cherry stones found in scales, which can be used for cyanide. Algerian Kamel Bourgass was convicted of plotting to spread ricin and other poisons. During a police search of premises in London, January 5, 2003 detectives discovered residue from a homemade poison, together with recipes and instructions for making poisons and explosives. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
Shannon Richardson is pictured in this booking photo, courtesy of Titus County Sheriff's Office, made available on June 8, 2013. Richardson has been arrested on suspicion of sending ricin-laced letters to U.S. President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the eastern district of Texas said on June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Titus County Sheriff's Office/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Everett Dutschke works on his mini-van in his driveway in Tupelo Mississippi on April 26, 2013. Federal agents arrested Dutschke on Saturday after his home and a former business were searched as part of an investigation into ricin-laced letters sent to President Barack Obama and two other public officials. Picture taken on April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Wells (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Itawamba County Sheriff Officers search the grounds of the home of Melvin Kitchens as they try and help federal authorities locate Everett Dutschke near the town of Kirkville, Mississippi , April 25, 2013. Members of an anti-terrorist response team from the Mississippi National Guard wearing hazmat suits had already searched the Tupelo home of Dutschke on Tuesday. REUTERS/Thomas Wells/Daily Journal (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
22-year-old Steven Michael Ekberg of Ocala, Florida is shown in a Marion County Sheriff's Office booking photo after he was arrested by the FBI, on January 12, 2005. Police found the biotoxin ricin in his possession in the home he shares with his mother. He is being charged with possession of a biological weapon. REUTERS/Handout-Marion County Sheriffs Office JLS/GN
UNDATED- In this undated handout image from the Metropolitan Police, April 14, 2005, is seen salterscales. Algerian Kamel Bourgass was convicted of plotting to spread ricin and other poisons. During a police search of premises in London, January 5, 2003 detectives discovered residue from a homemade poison, together with recipes and instructions for making poisons and explosives. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
UNDATED- In this undated handout image from the Metropolitan Police, April 14, 2005, is seen wallet containing 11 passport style pictures of Bourgass. Algerian Kamel Bourgass was convicted of plotting to spread ricin and other poisons. During a police search of premises in London, January 5, 2003 detectives discovered residue from a homemade poison, together with recipes and instructions for making poisons and explosives. (Photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 04: The Marine haz-mat team from Dover Delaware along with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Capitol Police prepare to enter the Russell Senate Office Building during the ricin scare. (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 5: Congressional employees wait for the re-opening of the Senate Russell Office Building, one of the three Senate office buildings that were closed, February 5, 2004 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. All three Senate office buildings were closed after deadly poison ricin was found at majority leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) office. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 4: A man walks out of a Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) command center in a Senate parking lot near the Dirksen Senate Building February 4, 2004 in Washington DC. Three Senate office buildings are closed after a letter was confirmed to contain the poison ricin in the Senate Majority leader Bill Frist (R-TN) office. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Hazmat crews enter the Postal Facility (from the loading dock area) in the 3000 block of 'V' st. NE today after it was shut down. This facility processes U.S. Government mail including letters bound for the Senate. The letter with the ricin substance sent to Sen. Frist is believed to have gone thru this facility. Note the supplies being carried include duct tape and plastic baggies, etc. (Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
A police patrol car blocks the entrance to Crumpsall Lane in Manchester Wednesday, where detective constable Stephen Oake, 40, was stabbed to death during a raid on terrorist suspects linked to the discovery in London of the deadly poison ricin. * Mr Oake, a father-of-three from Poynton in Cheshire, who served with the forces's Special Branch, died at North Manchester General Hospital after receiving emergency treatment at the scene. (Photo by Phil Noble - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Police officers in protective clothing guard the entrance to a house in Crumpsall Lane in Manchester, where detective constable Stephen Oake, 40, was stabbed to death during a raid on terrorist suspects linked to the discovery in London of the deadly poison ricin. * Mr Oake, a father-of-three from Poynton in Cheshire, who served with the forces's Special Branch, died at North Manchester General Hospital after receiving emergency treatment at the scene. (Photo by Phil Noble - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Irvine��Federal agents loaded a mysterious white powder substance found at the QuickStart company in Irvine into a US Customs Helicopter and flew the substance to San Diego for further testing. The Orange County Fire Authority tested the substance once as the biotoxin 'Ricin' and then later said it was not, so the FBI stepped in and led the investigation. (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov, a broadcaster for the BBC overseas sercvice, who was murdered. Assistant Commissioner Gilbert Kelland said a link had been found between the 'poison brolly' case and an injury in Paris to another Bulgarian exile. 07/01/03 Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov, a broadcaster for the BBC overseas service, who was murdered when a tiny 'bullet' filled with the poison ricin was fired at him from an umbrella as he walked September 1978 over London's Waterloo Bridge. Scotland Yard confirmed, that anti-terrorist detectives in London are questioning six men of north African origin after traces of the deadly poison ricin were discovered. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Defendant Cheng Le is shown in this government evidence photo which was released by U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, during Le's trial in New York August 25, 2015. Cheng Le, 22, had in 2014 asked a Federal Bureau of Investigation analyst posing as a vendor on a website called Evolution to sell him ricin in the form of "simple and easy death pills" that he could resell, prosecutor Andrew Beaty told jurors in Manhattan federal court. REUTERS/U.S. Attorney's Office/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
22-year-old Steven Michael Ekberg of Ocala, Florida is shown in a Marion County Sheriff's Office booking photo after he was arrested by the FBI, on January 12, 2005. Police found the biotoxin ricin in his possession in the home he shares with his mother. He is being charged with possession of a biological weapon. REUTERS/Handout-Marion County Sheriffs Office JLS/GN
Two criminal technicians prepare to enter the Danish embassy to get a suspicious letter and white powder in Stockholm. Two criminal technicians prepare to enter the Danish embassy to get a suspicious letter and white powder in Stockholm May 10, 2005. A large area was sealed off and a large rescue and police force was called to the Danish embassy in central Stockholm after one of the embassy workers found a letter with suspicious white powder on the second floor of the embassy. "We acted following our routines regarding ricin contamination," says the officer-in-charge. The white powder and letter will undergo tests at the Swedish Criminal Technology Laboratory. DENMARK OUT SWEDEN OUT NORWAY OUT NO THIRD PARTY SALES REUTERS/Bjorn Larsson Ask/Scanpix
Two technicians leave the Danish embassy with a suspicious letter containing white powder stored in a canister in Stockholm May 10, 2005. A large area was sealed off and a large rescue and police force was called to the Danish Embassy in central Stockholm after one of the embassy workers found a letter with suspicious white powder on the second floor of the embassy. "We acted following our routines regarding ricin contamination," says the officer-in-charge. The white powder and letter will undergo tests at the Swedish Criminal Technology Laboratory. ENMARK OUT SWEDEN OUT NORWAY OUT NO THIRD PARTY SALES REUTERS/Scanpix/Bjorn Larsson Ask jn/CCK/YH
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Miller, whose age was not disclosed, told staff at the facility that she had begun manufacturing the powder from the seeds of castor oil plants grown onsite, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit filed at the court.

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.

No other residents of the facility showed signs of ricin poisoning.

A representative of the retirement home did not respond to a call seeking comment.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.