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Ricin Fast Facts

Here's a look at ricin, a natur...

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 7:40 AM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 7:40 AM

Here's a look at ricin, a natural, highly toxic compound that is extracted from castor beans.

Facts:
About one million tons of castor beans are processed every year. Ricin is part of the waste from the beans when castor oil is made. Sometimes this is called "mash."

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Less than a pinpoint can kill a human if ingested, injected, or inhaled. There is no known cure.

Ricin can be used in powder, pellet, mist or acid form.

If injected, ricin causes immediate death of the muscles and lymph nodes near the site of the injection. Failure of the major organs and death usually follow.

If ingested it causes nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, and death by collapse of the circulatory system.

If a castor bean is swallowed whole without damage to the seed coat, it will probably pass harmlessly through the system. But if the coat is chewed or broken, then swallowed, the poison will enter the body.

Timeline:
1978 - Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov is shot with a ricin-tipped dart fired from an umbrella while waiting for a bus in London. He dies four days later.

February 2, 2004 - Ricin is found in Senator Bill Frist's mailroom in the Dirksen Senate office building.

February 3, 2004 - Law enforcement sources say that a letter addressed to the White House was intercepted in November 2003 after it was found to contain ricin. Ricin was also found in a letter in October 2003 at a postal handling facility in Greenville, South Carolina. The letter in Greenville was addressed to the Department of Transportation and demanded that changes in truckers' sleep/work schedules not be implemented.

February 22, 2008 - A small amount of ricin and firearms are found in a Las Vegas hotel room.

March 1, 2008 - Roger Von Bergendorff, a California resident, is named as the occupant of the Las Vegas hotel room. Bergendorff had been rushed to the hospital on February 14 due to respiratory problems.

April 16, 2008 - Bergendorff is charged with possession of a biological toxin, possession of unregistered firearms and possession of firearms not identified by serial number.

April 28, 2008 - Thomas Tholen of Utah, Bergendorff's cousin, pleads not guilty on charges he knew about the creation of ricin and did not report it. Investigators believe Bergendorff's ricin was created in Tholen's basement.

August 4, 2008 - Bergendorff pleads guilty to possession of a biological toxin and possession of unregistered firearms.

October 22, 2008 - Tholen receives two years' probation and is ordered to pay a fine of $500 for knowing his cousin produced and carried ricin.

November 17, 2008 - Bergendorff is sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison and fined $7,500.

January 28, 2011 - Jeff Boyd Levenderis is arrested after a coffee can containing ricin is found in his foreclosed home in Coventry Township, Ohio. When the FBI questions Levenderis, he says the substance is ant poison, but later admits it is ricin that he made 10 years earlier.

February 1, 2011 - A federal grand jury indicts Levenderis on one count of possessing a biological toxin and one count of making false statements.

April 16, 2013 - An envelope addressed to Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi tests positive for ricin at the US Capitol's off-site mail facility.

April 17, 2013 - The Secret Service announces that a letter addressed to President Barack Obama, containing a "suspicious substance," was intercepted at the White House's off-site mail facility on April 16. Later in the day the FBI confirms that the letter tested positive for ricin.

April 17, 2013 - A law enforcement source tells CNN that the letters to President Obama and Senator Wicker contain the same language and read, "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both letters are signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."

April 17, 2013 - Lee County, Mississippi, Sheriff Jim Johnson says that a letter received by Judge Sadie Holland has notable similarities to letters sent to President Obama and Senator Wicker.

April 27, 2013 - James Everett Dutschke, of Tupelo, Mississippi, is arrested on suspicion of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and others.

May 22, 2013 - Matthew Ryan Buquet is arrested in Spokane, Washington, and suspected of sending ricin-laced letters threatening federal Judge Fred Van Sickle.

May 29, 2013 - Officials intercept a letter sent to President Obama that is similar to letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The letters are postmarked Shreveport, Louisiana, and are found to contain "very low concentrations" of ricin.

June 3, 2013 - Dutschke is indicted in the mailing of ricin-laced letters to President Obama, Republican Sen. Wicker of Mississippi and Lee County Judge Holland. He later pleads guilty and is sentenced to 25 years in prison.

June 7, 2013 - Shannon Richardson, an actress who had a minor role in the TV series "The Walking Dead," is arrested and charged in connection with ricin-tainted letters that were mailed to President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg.

June 27, 2013 - Richardson is indicted for sending letters containing ricin to President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg.

December 10, 2013 - Richardson pleads guilty to possession of a toxin for use as a weapon. She is later sentenced to 18 years in prison.

March 21, 2014 - Georgetown University student, Daniel Harry Milzman, is arrested and charged with possessing a biological toxin after admitting he made ricin in his dorm room. Milzman is later sentenced to one year and one day in prison.

June 4, 2014 - Jeff Boyd Levenderis is convicted of possessing ricin for use as a weapon and also possessing ricin and making false statements to agents of the FBI. He is later sentenced to six years in prison.

November 30, 2017 - Seventy-year-old Betty Miller is arrested and charged with unregistered possession of a select agent. Miller tells an FBI agent that she was making ricin in her home and testing its effectiveness on other residents of the Wake Robin continuing care retirement community.

May 18, 2018 - Miller pleads guilty to possessing ricin.

October 2, 2018 - Envelopes suspected of containing ricin are addressed to President Donald Trump and three top government officials, FBI Director Chris Wray, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and chief of naval operations Adm. John Richardson. The envelopes sent to the Pentagon are intercepted at the Pentagon mail facility and the envelope addressed to Trump never enters the White House.

October 3, 2018 - Navy veteran William Clyde Allen III is arrested on terrorist charges and confesses to sending the letters that tested positive for ricin to Trump and three government officials.

October 18, 2018 - The Justice Department announces a seven-count indictment against Allen, including an allegation that he "knowingly threatened to use a biological agent and toxin, specifically ricin, as a weapon." Allen pleads not guilty to all charges.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 256827

Reported Deaths: 5638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17257180
Hinds16331322
Harrison13567194
Rankin10804212
Jackson10453184
Lee8864141
Madison8314164
Jones6434112
Forrest6009120
Lauderdale5902186
Lowndes5405116
Lafayette499193
Lamar488565
Washington4803124
Bolivar3997109
Oktibbeha395381
Panola372379
Pontotoc367853
Monroe3558105
Warren354898
Union345960
Marshall344066
Neshoba3396152
Pearl River3301100
Leflore3041107
Lincoln298085
Sunflower286671
Hancock274459
Tate273162
Alcorn265453
Itawamba263759
Pike263778
Scott248046
Yazoo247056
Prentiss246552
Tippah243050
Copiah242749
Coahoma241054
Simpson236467
Leake231765
Grenada219471
Covington214672
Marion213073
Adams207070
Wayne202932
Winston201666
George199839
Attala194259
Newton193444
Tishomingo189361
Chickasaw185044
Jasper172736
Holmes168767
Clay159833
Stone144721
Tallahatchie141934
Clarke139862
Calhoun136521
Smith121424
Yalobusha117834
Walthall112336
Noxubee110822
Greene110429
Montgomery109834
Carroll104821
Lawrence102917
Perry102631
Amite98426
Webster92824
Tunica87321
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85326
Humphreys83124
Benton82023
Kemper77620
Quitman6968
Franklin66715
Choctaw60913
Wilkinson58725
Jefferson54919
Sharkey43117
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 426543

Reported Deaths: 6126
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62752920
Mobile30551554
Madison27303186
Tuscaloosa20835267
Montgomery19192305
Shelby18693114
Baldwin16513183
Lee12603101
Morgan12321113
Etowah11805168
Calhoun11206200
Marshall10236107
Houston8681148
Cullman8094105
Limestone807474
Elmore7923101
DeKalb771597
Lauderdale763183
St. Clair7599120
Talladega6224108
Walker5930174
Jackson583741
Colbert535473
Blount532083
Autauga522755
Coffee446256
Dale399781
Franklin368148
Chilton337865
Russell335910
Covington330168
Escambia321342
Dallas305196
Chambers288669
Clarke283133
Tallapoosa2630107
Pike251329
Marion247350
Lawrence245247
Winston229035
Bibb217047
Geneva203335
Marengo200829
Pickens196931
Hale177442
Barbour173836
Fayette171226
Butler170758
Cherokee160930
Henry155021
Monroe147317
Randolph141535
Washington138326
Clay127045
Crenshaw120244
Cleburne118423
Lamar118419
Macon116835
Lowndes111535
Wilcox103621
Bullock99728
Perry98219
Conecuh95120
Sumter89526
Greene76223
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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