We reported earlier that a suspicious letter had been sent to President Barack Obama that may have been linked to a “very similar” letter sent to Republican Senator Roger Wicker that tested positive for the poison ricin. Now we can report that the suspicious letter addressed to Obama also tested positive for the poison and that it was sent from the same individual as the Wicker letter.
Officials confirmed that the Obama letter tested positive for ricin with NBC News on Wednesday.
The letter to Obama was pulled on suspicion at an off-site White House mail facility for testing. Federal officials now believe that they know who sent the letters to both President Obama and Senator Wicker but are waiting for further test results before making an arrest.
Despite the timing, authorities did not initially consider the Ricin letters to be connected to the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday.
“The investigation into these letters remains ongoing, and more letters may still be received,” said the FBI in a statement this morning. “There is no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston.”
Ricin is a poison made from castor beans that is capable of killing within 36 hours. People can become exposed to the poison by touching a ricin-laced letter or by inhaling the particles that enter the air when the envelope is opened. Touching it causes a rash but is not fatal. Inhaling it is a different story. There is no antidote.
Some threatening letters pass the preliminary ricin test when they merely contain ground castor beans instead of the concentrated poison. Because of this, authorities are waiting on full laboratory test results (expected in the next 24 to 48 hours) before acting on their suspicions.
[Image via: Scott Rothstein, Shutterstock.com]