Jail for Chicago man who plotted to kill his wife with puffer fish poison

Wife still sees future with American who bought deadly puffer fish toxin with aim of killing her


An American has been sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for illegally obtaining deadly puffer fish toxin through the mail and plotting to use it as a weapon.

Yet the woman who authorities said Edward Bachner intended to poison - his wife Rebecca - was in court to support her husband and submitted a letter to the US federal judge saying she "looks forward to their future together", his lawyer said.

"Rebecca wrote she loves her husband very much. He's kind and caring and she feels safe with him," defence lawyer Jeff Steinback told judge Frederick Kapala, adding she had forgiven her husband. "This has brought them closer to each other and to God."

Bachner, 39, was arrested in 2008 after special agents from an FBI terrorism unit raided his Chicago home wearing biohazard suits. They found needles and syringes; vials of neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX); two passports; a phoney CIA identification; a hand grenade; a pistol; and 50 knives, authorities said. Bachner pleaded guilty last year to possession of a biological agent in the bizarre plot, in which authorities said he posed as a doctor to obtain large quantities of TTX.

Assistant US Attorney Mark Karner portrayed Bachner as having "lived two lives", appearing as a happily married man while plotting as far as back as 2005 to kill his wife. Bachner had diverted money from mortgage payments to pay for the poison, filed false tax returns and took out a US$20 million life insurance policy on his wife.

Karner noted that Bachner had never revealed what happened to the empty TTX vials found in his home. A toxins experts has also said the quantities Bachner obtained could have killed dozens of people.

Bachner tearfully told the judge that he was "extremely remorseful" for his actions, vowed to become "the husband my love of my life deserves".

"The love story Becca and I have shared over 21 years has never been more strong, more solid," he said. "There's no one I'm more honoured to call my best friend and my wife."

Bachner was sentenced to 92 months in prison but given credit for more than four years he's been behind bars since his arrest.

He was also ordered to pay the government more than US$500,000 in restitution.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Husband jailed for poison plot