Pennsylvania man charged with sending ricin-laced birthday card

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 10:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 10:45pm


A Pennsylvania man has been arrested for allegedly sending a scratch-and-sniff birthday card laced with ricin to a man now dating his ex-girlfriend, authorities said.

Nicholas Todd Helman, 19, was charged with attempted murder and risking catastrophe after lab tests allegedly showed that the card he placed in the man's family mailbox on March 6 was discovered this week to have contained traces of the toxic substance, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said.

The form of the substance was unclear. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says ricin can be distributed as a powder, mist, pellet or dissolved in water.

Heckler stressed that the toxin was "very potent" and that Helman "hit the jackpot" by not accidentally killing himself.

"He made ricin," Heckler said, "and if you lick that card, you're dead."

Helman had bragged of the toxic card to a co-worker at Target in Warrington Township on March 6, according to a probable cause affidavit. The co-worker then notified police who called the man's home and spoke to his mother, asking whether she had retrieved the mail that day.

The mother said her daughter was outside retrieving the mail at that moment, according to the affidavit. Police advised them to return the mail to the mailbox, and authorities then came to the home to retrieve the card.