Hazardous material agents and Federal law enforcement arrested Alexander Joseph Jordan, 21, after they discovered he had attempted to create the toxin known as ricin. Ricin is an incredibly dangerous chemical that produces symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, diarrhoea and vomiting, making it very difficult to detect early on as its effect on the human body is not too different to normal food poisoning. However, it takes only a millionth of a gram when inhaled to kill a human, and the effects take several days to become noticeable.
When they found Alexander he was lying on the floor and gasping for breath. He was pointing to two nearby jars filled with the poison. Officials also seized the blender he had used to grind up the raw materials used to make the chemical. At a recent court appearance a teary eyed Alexander testified that his only interest in ricin was to commit suicide, and that he had absolutely no interest in harming others.
It also emerged that he had decided to make ricin after watching Breaking Bad where the poison plays a pivotal role in the plot. Alexander stated that he was mainly interested in knowing if he could actually make the chemical as easily as the show described. After searching the internet for instructions, and ordering castor beans off Amazon.com, he decided to give it a try.
Ricin is manufactured from castor beans, and in fact it takes as little as 5 – 20 castor beans to cause ricin poisoning if eaten orally. 98% of people who are exposed to ricin in this way will survive, but the effects are unpleasant and many people still die from eating the plant.
Alexander became ill after some of the liquid ricin touched his hand and he then touched his mouth. The young man claimed he had no interest in turning the poison into powder—its most lethal form—but officials must still be careful. Such is the danger of ricin that Alexander has had to be given a quarantined room and all his clothes have been removed by specialists in hazmat suits. His computer has also been sealed and sent away for analysis by hazardous material agents for fears that even a minute trace of the poison could cause deaths if it has somehow been spilled onto any of Alexander’s possessions.
Friends and family of Alexander also testified that he was recently fired from his job and was soon to be discharged from the National Guard. He had also recently been discharged from a mental health facility and was on anti-depressants.
The hearing was to see whether Alexander should be detained while he is treated for the effects of ricin and whether he represents a threat to others’ lives.