FBI Takes Over Ricin Case at Georgetown University

Ricin was found in a student’s room in McCarthy Hall at Georgetown University March 18. That dormitory and adjacent dorms were evacuated, and students relocated until the threat was clear.

As of now, no arrests have been made. One of the university’s student newspapers, the Georgetown Voice reported that it had talked to a source who said the subject of the investigation had confided that he possibly “intended to use the substance on another student.”

The case has been taken over by the FBI, and the investigation will continue.

The Center for Disease Control says that symptoms of ricin poisoning will show up in the first 24 hours. “This window has passed, and there are no reports consistent with ricin exposure,” said university police chief Jay Gruber. McCarthy Hall is now reopened.

A poisonous powder, ricin can be made from castor beans which are used to make castor oil, according to the Center for Disease Control. When the powder is ingested or inhaled, it can become fatal. The toxin gets inside the cells of a person’s body and prevents him or her from getting the proteins they need. Symptoms can be a range of things, including trouble breathing and vomiting.

Ricin has been previously used in domestic attacks against officials through the mail. In December 2013, a woman in Texas mailed three letters laced with ricin to President Obama and blamed it on her ex-husband shortly after he filed for divorce. In January of this year, a man from Texas pleaded guilty to sending poisonous letters to President Obama as well as Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and a Mississippi judge.


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