Editor’s Note: We’ll have the latest developments on the ricin investigation tonight on AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
Suspicious mail laced with ricin has Washington on edge. Preliminary testing shows a letter addressed to Pres. Obama and another to Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker both tested positive for the poison at off-site mail facilities.
Additional testing on the letters should be complete on Thursday. According to a law enforcement source, both letters had the same message: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance. And the same closing statement: "I am KC and I approve this message." Here’s the AC360° 411 on ricin:
- If ingested, injected or inhaled, less than a pinpoint can kill a human within 36 to 48 hours.
- Initial symptoms of ricin poisoning by inhalation may occur as early as 4-8 hours and as late as 24 hours after exposure.
- If ricin is ingested, initial symptoms typically occur in less than 10 hours.
- If ingested, ricin causes nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the major organs and death usually follows.
- If injected, ricin causes immediate death to the muscles and lymph nodes near the site of the injection.
- Ricin is a natural, highly toxic compound extracted from castor beans.
- Ricin has been used experimentally in medicine to kill cancer cells.
- There is no known cure for ricin poisoning.
- In the 1940’s: The U.S. military experimented with using ricin as a possible warfare agent.
- 1978: Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident who was living in London, died after he was attacked by a man with an umbrella. The umbrella had been rigged to inject a poison ricin pellet under his skin.
- 1980’s: Some reports ricin may have been used in the Iran-Iraq war.
- March 2003: Ricin is found in a Paris train station.
- Nov. 2003: Letter sent to White House intercepted after it was found to contain ricin.
- February 2004: Tests show a ricin-laced letter was sent to Sen. Bill Frist. No one reports any ill effects from the substance found in a Senate office building mailroom.
- August 2008: Roger Von Bergendorff, a California resident, pleads guilty to possession of a biological toxin after a small amount of ricin was found in a Las Vegas hotel room in February.
- November 2008: Bergendorff is sentenced to three and a half years in a federal prison and fined $7,500.
- January 2011: Jeff Boyd Levenderis is arrested after a coffee can containing ricin is found his foreclosed home in Coventry Township, Ohio. He first told the FBI it was ant poison, but later admitted he made it 10 years earlier.
- June 2011: Michael Crooker, of Agawam, Mass., is sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to illegally possessing the deadly toxin ricin and using the mail to threaten a federal prosecutor.
- November 2011: Four Georgia men are charged with plotting to attack government officials with explosives and ricin. The accused men are Dan Roberts, Frederick Thomas, Ray Adams and Samuel Crump.