Las Vegas Sun

March 18, 2019

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Small amounts of ricin found in Las Vegas apartment

Ricin Found 2

Wade Vandervort

Clark County Deputy Chief Christopher Darcy speaks during a media briefing for a hazardous materials incident involving ricin Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.

Ricin Found 2

Deputy Chief Christopher Darcy speaks during a Metro Police media briefing for a hazardous materials incident involving ricin Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. Launch slideshow »

Investigators probing a possible suicide Monday in a Las Vegas apartment found a man’s body, heroin, a suicide note and castor beans, which are used to make ricin, according to Metro Police.

During a more thorough search Tuesday, investigators found that some of the beans had been processed into “negligible” amounts of the biological toxin, Deputy Chief Christopher Darcy said this afternoon.

An adult can die by injecting, ingesting or eating a few milligrams of the poison. The ricin was in a granular, clunky and wet form, Southern Nevada Health District Chief Joseph Iser described as “kitty litter.”

Darcy said it was found in a coffee strainer, noting it was not airborne. Iser noted that it was a “very contained exposure.”

The apartment, which is part of a fourplex in the 5300 block of Retablo Avenue, near Flamingo Road and Decatur Boulevard, had been contained and no one, including first responders, was believed to be contaminated, Darcy said.

As of early this morning, the scene was secure and there was no threat to residents, Darcy said.

A roommate found the body of 36-year-old male lying on a couch on Monday, Darcy said. There was a handwritten note nearby. There was also a bag labeled as containing castor beans.

Authorities sealed the apartment and returned Tuesday after an initial examination of the deceased at the Clark County Coroner’s Office, police said. Investigators believe he used heroin to take his life but were testing to see if he may have been contaminated by the toxin, Darcy said.

Authorities shut down the area and ordered residents in the complex to shelter in place, Darcy said. As a precaution, first responders who made contact with the scene were tested for contamination and cleared at University Medical Center.

Samples of the substance tested Tuesday night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed traces of ricin, Iser said.

Investigators were hoping to learn more about the deceased and where he may have purchased the castor beans. Anyone with information is asked to call Metro at 702-828-7777.