SHELBURNE, Vermont — An unhinged granny tried to poison her neighbors in a Vermont retirement community using the powerful biological weapon ricin, authorities said.
Betty Miller, 70, had allegedly manufactured the deadly compound using a recipe she found online and then wanted to use her neighbors at the Wake Robin life care community to test its potency, federal prosecutors said.
On Nov. 28, the FBI and Vermont police were called to the senior living center with a report that potentially hazardous substances had been found there. A search turned up a bottle labelled “ricin” in Miller’s apartment.
Further testing determined that it was indeed ricin, a lethal agent derived from castor beans. If inhaled, ricin can cause difficulty breathing and other symptoms. If ingested, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations and seizures.
In an interview, Miller said she ultimately planned to use the poison to harm herself but wanted to test its strength first by placing it her neighbors’ food and drink, prosecutors said.
There were no reports that anyone was sickened.
Miller told officials she learned how to make the toxin online after developing an interest in plant-based poisons. Inside Miller’s residence, the FBI also found other plants that can be used to make toxins, such as apple, yew, cherry, castor and foxglove.
She was charged with unregistered possession of a select agent.