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Pa. teen allegedly put ricin in birthday card

HATBORO, Pa. (CBS) -- A 19-year-old Pennsylvania man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly sending a birthday card laced with the deadly toxin ricin to someone he was having problems with, reports CBS Philly.

Nicholas Helman, of Hatboro, is facing attempted murder and other charges after police say he placed the poisonous white powder in the victim's mailbox on March 6, in an envelope containing a scratch-and-sniff birthday card. Helman allegedly told a co-worker what he had done the next day, according to CBS Philly. The co-worker promptly contacted police.

Upon learning of the alleged plot, authorities immediately got in touch with the victim. Police were able to intercept the envelope, which later tested positive for ricin.

"Warminster Township police officers responded to that residence immediately, and were able to intercept the correspondence from the mailbox," said Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney Antonetta Stancu.

Police said the suspect admitted to sending the deadly substance and that he used castor beans and sodium hydroxide - which he ordered online - to concoct the toxin.

On Wednesday, HAZMAT investigators and SWAT teams gathered evidence from Helman's house. Officers say they found a backpack containing a white bottle of sodium hydroxide and a black notebook with a recipe for ricin.

"The individual has been taken into custody, and we do not believe there is any threat to public safety," said Hatboro Police Chief James Gardner.

Helman had been sending the victim threatening messages for months, dating back to last November, according to police. He is currently being held without bail.

 
 
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