Poisoning Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Possessing Ricin

The Vermont woman accused of trying to poison her neighbors with a homemade toxin pleaded not guilty to a federal charge against her. 

Betty Miller, 70, entered the not guilty plea Friday to a charge of knowing possession of an unregistered biological agent. 

A grand jury recently indicted Miller, NBC 5 News reported. 

The FBI said last month that Miller manufactured ricin, a potentially deadly toxin, using castor beans and directions she obtained from the internet. 

Miller allegedly made the poison inside her kitchen inside the upscale Wake Robin retirement community in Shelburne. Investigators said she wanted to harm herself, but first wanted to see how the ricin would affect others. 

Medical tests revealed one Wake Robin resident who reported a mild illness had trace levels of a material in her system that indicated she might have been poisoned by ricin. The positive test results could have originated with another source—such as castor oil—but because of the alleged plot, law enforcement does suspect the person was poisoned. 

At a detention hearing earlier this month, the proceedings revealed Miller has a history of psychiatric hospitalizations and suicide attempts. 

Miller’s attorney told NBC 5 News Friday that she is currently being jailed in South Burlington. 

In early December, defense attorney Paul Volk told Magistrate Judge John Conroy that he was working to find a mental health facility that was appropriate for Miller, given the allegations against her. 

Wake Robin has said Miller is no longer welcome on its campus, which the retirement community said has received safety assurances from federal and state health experts. 

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