Showing posts with label ricinus communis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ricinus communis. Show all posts

03 December 2017

A Castor Oil Dose Too Many

by Leigh Lundin

castor blossoms, Ricinus communis
Castor blossoms, Ricinus communis
It’s not often a crime surprises me, but a story out of Vermont is jaw-dropping.

First, I like the Shelburne area and the little ‘city’ of Vergennes below it. Dairy products are rich, maple syrup is unparalleled and, despite reports of New England reserve, folks are friendly, with perhaps one exception.

A 70-year-old resident of the upscale Wake Robin Retirement Community, Betty Miller, taught herself to manufacture ricin… you know, the deadly nerve agent. She’s been arrested and, at a minimum, faces federal charges of possession of a biological agent.

Ricin? When I was little, my father warned my brother and me to leave plants that grew by the milk barn strictly alone. They were castor plants, taxonomically named Ricinus communis, source of castor oil, among other things, and ricin.

Castor beans
Castor beans
Ms Miller did what we were instructed to avoid. First, she researched the process on the internet. Who says the elderly aren’t technically savvy? She harvested wild-growing castor beans from the grounds of the retirement complex. Following lab instructions, she concocted ricin powder.

But wait… there’s more… there’s always more. She told FBI investigators she planned to ‘harm’ herself, presumably to commit suicide, not an unusual wish amongst older people coerced into nursing homes. But, she first tested the powder on other residents of the care facility.

The lady is a bloody twisted genius. Although reports conflict, apparently no sickness was reported amid patients administered test doses. Authorities are keeping Miller safely locked up as a threat to herself and others.

To sum up this astonishing little tale, a 70-year-old woman, confined to what’s politely called a retirement home with only access to a kitchen,
Ricin powder
Ricin powder
  1. ID’d castor plants, Ricinus communis,
  2. Signed on to the Internet,
  3. Researched how to manufacture ricin,
  4. Harvested the deadly castor beans,
  5. Produced poison in her room, and
  6. Tested it on other patients first.
Already, Wake Robin is advertising a vacancy.

Although involving others repels me, I confess a grudging admiration for her brilliance and resourcefulness. Another thought occurs to me. I like to think she intended to administer ricin to whoever confined her to a nursing home.

Wait, is that wrong?

Don’t screw with old people. There’s a reason they lived so long.