New details: Woman, 70, makes initial appearance in Shelburne ricin case

70-Year-Old US Woman Made Ricin Tested It On Neighbors FBI

No one had apparently been killed by Betty Miller's activities at the bucolic Wake Robin retirement home

The potentially deadly ricin, federal agents allege, was homemade by the 70-year-old to go into the food and drink of her neighbors at a Vermont continuing care retirement community.

"According to a release from the USAO and the FBI, "(Miller) stated that she manufactured ricin in the kitchen of her Wake Robin residence and, to test its potency, placed the ricin in the food or beverages of other residents".

Betty Miller, who lived in the Wake Robin retirement community, is expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District court Friday afternoon. She was ordered to remain in custody by Judge John Conroy until pretrial detention and probable cause hearings next Wednesday citing her "very lengthy mental health history". She exposed other residents to the ricin on at least three occasions, the complaint said.

"We are now aware of one person who likely became ill with ricin poisoning, and we have been following up with that person", he said.

Miller said she harvested 30 to 40 castor beans from plants growing on Wake Robin's property and made two to three tablespoons of ricin twice in her kitchen, the complaint said. This powder was tested in the HHA (Hand Held Analysis) and RAMP, with a positive result on the HHA for Ricin. Investigators also found instructions for making ricin that apparently were from the internet, the affidavit said.

If inhaled, ricin causes difficulty breathing and other symptoms. "Symptoms would have appeared by 24 hours after ingesting and that time has passed".

The acting Shelburne Police chief says he and the Federal Bureau of Investigation returned to Wake Robin on Thursday. A Wake Robin spokeswoman said residents were safe. We have received assurances from the VT Department of Health and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that no one's health is at risk.

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Ricin is a deadly toxin derived from castor beans and has no known antidote. By her own admission, she administered those substances to other residents in order to test their efficacy.

The FBI and Vermont law enforcement first responded to Wake Robin life care community November 28 after learning of a potentially hazardous substance on the premises. Ricin is a highly toxic substance that only takes a few grains the size of table salt to kill a human.

Since then, Truman said, Health Department officials have worked with Wake Robin staff to direct the cleaning and testing effort at the facility.

In his written statement, McKee thanked responders, investigators, staff and residents.

According to a search warrant, investigators were allowed to seize materials and equipment involved in the ricin production, including computers and/or storage media.

This post was updated at 5:44 p.m. with information from the U.S. Attorney's Office and Wake Robin.

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