The national micro-fad of summer ricin mailing has produced a lot of firsts, not the least of which is the debut involvement and arrest of a beauty queen/actress/serial wife, Shannon Rogers Richardson, apparently intent on framing her husband. And showing a disagreeable side to the President and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Shannon Rogers Guess Richardson of New Boston, Texas, originally called the Federal Bureau of Investigation claiming that her husband had sent the [ricin] letters, officials said. The investigators found that she had sent the letters herself, they said.
Richardson is an actress with minor roles on television shows like The Walking Dead and the Vampire Diaries, and was arrested in Arkansas on charges that will be filed Friday afternoon ...
Ricin mailing in the US has set a grotesque and unusual standard in the US during the last sixty days.
Two out of the three cases are implicated in attempts to frame acquaintances. J. Everett Dutschke, as outlined in a grand jury indictment handed down earlier this week, sent ricin letters as part of a plot to frame Paul Kevin Curtis. And now Shannon Richardson is added to the list.
There has also never been any time in American history when so much castor powder ricin-tainted mail was sent to gain attention. It's never happened before. In fact, it's never happened anywhere globally, as far as I know, ever.
It is the first time in American history that a president, Barack Obama, has been sent, not one -- but three -- letters tainted with ricin. Ricin mailing (not powder hoax mailing) is a phenomenon recent in American life and three poison letters to the president, from three different people -- in Mississippi, Washington and Texas, is another dubious global standard setter. This never happens anywhere else.
In fact, it has never happened to any other president. Coincidence? Yeah, sure.
Our country has a small number of ricin crackpots. And what's one of the first things they've thought of when concocting their schemes? Sending mail to Barack Obama! And it's all been just serendipity, the idiosyncratic flights of fancy in perturbed minds. Right.
Our ricin mailers say much about American society in 2013. And what it says people don't like to talk about much, that's for sure.
From her Facebook page, did Shannon Guess Richardson not like her husband and the President?
Ricin will never be a good weapon. But because of the war on terror millions of Americans believe just the opposite. And to this day, many counter-terror experts with zero practical knowledge in biochemistry continue to tell anyone who will listen that it is easy to make.
Castor meal, or what results after castor seeds are ground are about five percent protein. A five percent nitrogen content in castor meal comes with the protein and that is why it was used as fertilizer when the US still had a large castor farming and milling business.
Of the protein content in castor seeds, some is ricin. This is easily illustrated using SDS gel electrophoretic analysis of castor powder samples. (Which is just what a national bioterror defense lab in Maryland does when it receives samples recovered in ricin cases.)
Here is what a sample recovered from a ricin case looks like, analytically.
Examples from a ricin domestic terrorism case in the US begin in the lanes to the right of the clear lane. The single band lane to the left is a lab ricin standard. And the arrow denotes ricin component in the crude mixture from castor seeds.
The above shows a crude but complex mixture, of which ricin is only one part. Active ricin exists within it but it is far from pure.
And this is why the recipes on the Internet are irrelevant except as lures and news items to be gawked at. They don't do anything practical in the sense of a biochemical purification process.
No pure ricin is ever produced in domestic ricin case. It's way beyond the capability of those who've been caught doing it.
Occasionally, someone departs from the script that ricin is easy to make and attempts to find someone who can really explain the nature of it.
Sarah Green, chair of the Tech chemistry department, said ricin stops all cell activities of the organism it attacks. However, ricin is effective as a weapon against humans only under certain circumstances ...
In order for ricin to be effective as an airborne substance, Green said it would have to be a very fine powder and a huge quantity, perhaps tons, would be needed to make it a weapon of mass destruction ...
Despite its possible toxicity, Green said only someone with a training in chemistry could make ricin an effective weapon.
"It takes quite a bit of purification," she said..
People who actually know the protein chemistry business realize that production of "tons" of ricin is a ludicrous proposition.
Decades ago the US military tried to make a weapon out of ricin. It even filed a patent, one which became a contentious matter after 9/11.
But the patent, which I described many years ago here, was developed by those operating in the dark on the true nature of ricin. Because of that, their work actually degraded ricin.
And there has never been any compelling evidence that this old US military work on "weaponizing" ricin was effective.
Despite all this, the US mainstream media will never get with the program. It's too complicated a story. And that means less eyeballs for the website page.
The damage wrought is irreversible. The lore on ricin is deeply dug in and we will always have a small number of very suggestible, angry and disturbed people who pound castor beans, a first among western nations.
Related: A general history of ricin cases during the war on terror. (Many pages long.)
Originally published at Dick Destiny blog. About the author. George Smith has consulted in domestic and foreign ricin cases.