NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Texas woman who told the FBI that her husband was behind ricin-laced letters mailed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama has been arrested for allegedly sending them herself, CBS News reported.
Shannon Guess Richardson, an actress and mother of five children, was arrested Friday, an official told CBS News. It’s not clear what charges would be filed against her.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly during the ongoing investigation.
FBI agents wearing hazardous material suits were seen going in and out of her New Boston, Texas home Wednesday. The home is about an hour and a half away from Shreveport, La. where all three letters were postmarked.
Officials have said the search was initiated after Richardson contacted the FBI and implicated her husband, Nathaniel Richardson.
Nathaniel Richardson had been named a person of interest, but was questioned by the FBI and then released, CBS News reported.
His attorney John Delk said Richardson had filed for divorce and may have been set up by his wife. He said his client was cooperating with authorities.
“There are a lot of factors I’m aware of that indicate (Nathaniel Richardson) was set up in this deal by her,” Delk said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued the following statement Friday: “I want to commend the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI for the arrest in the ricin case. I also commend the members of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau, the Emergency Service Unit, and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection who responded to the threat against Mayor Bloomberg, as well as the NYPD Intelligence Bureau who maintained the Mayor’s safety throughout, as they do everyday.”
“Fortunately, neither Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama, the director of the Mayors Committee Against Illegal Guns, nor those who processed the ricin-laced mail incurred serious illness or injury, in part because of safety measures already in place.”
The FBI is investigating at least three cases in which ricin was mailed to Obama, Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns group in Washington.
Police said the type-written letters were similar with no return address.
“There are three letters. The letters are the same. They are addressed on the envelope, not on the letter itself. On the letter it says ‘you’ and then it starts off with the narrative,” Kelly said last month.
The two letters addressed to Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns each contained oily orange stains, which tested positive for ricin, authorities said.
The ricin was crudely made and of poor quality, but still dangerous and potentially deadly, authorities said. It wasn’t clear if the missive to Obama contained the same substance.
According to multiple sources, the letter sent to Bloomberg carried the following threat:
“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional, God-given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die. What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”
Delk said Shannon Richardson is pregnant with the couple’s first child, due in October. She also has five children ranging in age from 4 to 19 from other relationships, four of whom have been living with the couple in New Boston, the attorney said.
Her resume on the Internet movie database IMDb said she has had small television roles in “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Walking Dead.” She also had a minor role in the movie “The Blind Side” and appeared in an Avis commercial, according to the resume.
Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“It’s one of the most toxic and deadly substances that you can actually have,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. “So the idea of exposing someone to it, where it could actually get into the system, can be really very destructive.”
Symptoms include difficulty breathing, vomiting and redness on the skin depending on how the affected person comes into contact with the poison.
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