Deadly toxin found in Las Vegas motel room

Here’s a weird, scary motel hazard story. It goes way, way, way beyond contaminated water glasses. How about the presence of a toxin that is so powerful even a speck can kill you? That’s what was found in an Extended Stay America motel room in Las Vegas yesterday, two weeks after a man who was staying in the room was rushed to the hospital in respiratory distress.

Vials of the toxin ricin, made from castor beans, were found in the man’s room by a friend who went to pick up his stuff. The room had not been rented out since the man left. Once it was discovered what the substance was, the hotel was cordoned off and guests had to stay in their rooms until there was an all clear. Other people–the manager, police officers and the person who brought the vials of ricin to the manager’s office were treated for contamination, but all of them are fine and the motel has been cleaned.

Not much is known about the man, the friend or how the ricin came to be in the room. There were castor beans as well, and it’s illegal to make ricin. This is the stuff of spy thrillers and assassination–back in the 1970s in London, a Bulgarian dissident was assassinated when someone injected a ricin pellet in his leg with an umbrella.

This story sounds like one that could get more and more curious. It’s a page turner with the last pages missing. Hopefully, the man will be able to answer questions one day. And if you’re wondering, officials don’t think this is a terrorist plot. [via AP]