Ricin was used by man in a lover’s quarrel, according to police. Police arrested a Hatboro, Pa. man for the allegation of mailing a scratch and sniff birthday card to a man who is now involved in a romantic relationship with his former girlfriend. Police charged Nicholas Todd Helman, 19, with attempted murder and risking a catastrophe. Lab tests have now revealed that the card he put in the mailbox on March 6th was found to have trace amounts of Ricin.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said that Helman, “Hit the jackpot.” He had made ricin and if anyone had licked the card, they would be dead. Heckler made clear that the toxin was very potent. Apparently Helman had told to fellow co-workers at Target that he had made a toxic card. The co-workers notified police. Police contacted the unidentified victim’s house and was able to speak with his mother. They asked her if she received the mail . The mother told police her daughter was getting the mail as they spoke. Police told her to leave the mail in the mailbox.
On March 7th police questioned Helman regarding the card he had sent. He told police had only laced the card with sodium hydroxide. He said he chose sodium hydroxide as it resembled anthrax. Helman also admitted to police he has sent threatening Facebook messages to the victim. Police seized from him sodium hydroxide and recipe for ricin detailed in a notebook. Initially, Helman was only charged with making terroristic threats and harassment. Police waited for the lab results to determine if ricin had been used by Helman in this lover’s quarrel. The results came back to police on Tuesday, conforming that the card had traces of ricin.
Multiple police agencies, FBI, SWAT accompanied by hazardous material teams arrested Helman Wednesday night at his Hatboro apartment. The District Attorney said those arresting officers were deployed under the assumption that Helman had more Ricin. No precautions were overlooked. He was arraigned before a judge at 8pm and held without bail, according to the District Attorney.
According to the Center for Disease Control, ricin, a toxic poison, is naturally found in castor beans. It is made by heating the waste material that results from processing the beans. Ingestion can lead to death. The CDC also notes there is no known antidote. According to the FBI, sodium hydroxide can be used to extract ricin from castor beans. Police said they had recovered both sodium hydroxide and castor beans from Helman earlier last week.
Authorities describe Helman as an advanced placement student who graduated Hatboro-Horsham high school in 2013. In an online profile Helman cited math and science as his favorite subjects. Helman’s father, who lives in Youngsville, Pa., said he knew nothing of the incident. He also described his son as an Eagle Scout, who cleaned a local park for his Eagles Scout project.
In addition to this case of ricin being used by a man in a lover’s quarrel, there has been a disturbing increase in ricin being used in criminal cases. In December, former actress Shannon Guess Richardson, plead guilty to sending ricin laced letters to President Obama.
By John J. Poltonowicz