Ricin scare in North Park neighborhood

Ricin scare in North Park neighborhood

NORTH PARK Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - Police say a woman attempted suicide using ricin that she created from castor beans.
NORTH PARK Utah (ABC 4 Utah)- The Ricin danger is over at a home in this community north of Logan.
Late Wednesday night police say a woman ingested the toxic chemical in a suicide attempt.
She survived but a family living in the same home was forced to evacuate and taken to the hospital as a precaution.

"A call came into our dispatch center from an individual outside of the state that she had a cousin that she was concerned about," says Chief Kim Hawkes of North Park police.

And from that call Wednesday evening police soon learned they were dealing with ricin, a deadly chemical. It wasn't until a local hazardous material unit arrived before authorities were able to enter.

"She had been experiencing vomiting through the day nausea," says Hawkes. "I think that prompted her to call. She knew she was sick."

She was taken to the hospital. A neighbor says the 36 year old woman was dealing with medical problems.

"She had a lot of pain, back pain and stuff," says Nancy Jensen who had visited her in the past.

A family living upstairs was also taken to the hospital. They've since been released.

"They were evicted out of their house," says Jensen. "They couldn't even take their keys or anything."

Police say the neighborhood was never in any danger.

"The intent of the subject was not to create this toxin in a form that could not be broadcast to other areas or to be vaporized or be airborne," says Hawkes. "So we are very certain the neighborhood is safe."

Authorities found 60 castor beans inside the woman's basement apartment. They say she grinded half of the beans to make the ricin.

"There was a grinder in the apartment that she indicated she had ground the beans up with," says Hawkes. "There was al low positive for ricin in that particular device."

A special Haz mat crew from the Utah Army National Guard arrived in the afternoon to assess and take samples of the ricin in the apartment.

"The danger is not that great," says Major Craig Bello. "There are castor beans in there which do have ricin in them. It just depends on the process that was taken before the beans were ingested."

He says the FBI will interview the woman to determine if charges should be filed. Major Bello says ricin is considered a weapon of mass destruction and is a federal offense.

As for the woman who created the ricin scare, a search on the internet shows that she's had surgery last year. She posted that she has no medical insurance and is facing thousands of dollars in debt. One post indicated that she had no money for prescriptions.

Jensen says she's surprised by her actions and was unaware she needed financial support. She says the local LDS ward was helping her from time to time.

"I would think that she would call for help before doing something this drastic," says Jensen.

To learn more about ricin visit the Center for Disease Control website at:http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/facts.asp
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