Judge orders ricin suspect to remain jailed

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Inside a Burlington courtroom, a federal judge revealed new information about the woman who allegedly manufactured the deadly toxin ricin, considered a biological weapon.

Sketch artist: Barbara Carter

At a detention hearing Wednesday for Betty Miller, Judge John Conroy said the 70-year-old has an extensive mental health history including suicide attempts.

Miller was arrested last week after she allegedly confessed to making the highly toxic powder on multiple occasions. It brought the FBI's hazmat team to her apartment unit at Wake Robin, an upscale retirement community in Shelburne.

Court documents reveal Miller said she wanted to "injure herself" and targeted other residents by putting ricin in their food and drinks to see what happened. CDC testing conducted on someone Miller allegedly admitted to poisoning came back positive for "ricinine." Authorities say it's an indicator of potential exposure to ricin or other derivatives of the castor bean.

For now, prosecutors want to keep Miller locked up while she tries to get into a mental health treatment facility. Miller's attorney, Paul Volk, agreed to keep her detained.

"We'll see what happens," Volk said. "If my client is able to find an appropriate location, that is what apparently all parties believe is the correct way to proceed from here."

A future hearing on Miller's detention will be set if she's able to obtain treatment.

Vermont health officials say the person who showed symptoms from ingesting ricin is now well. There have been no other reports of ricin exposure.