How Many People Have Sent Ricin to the President?

Getty The White House is seen on March 24, 2019 in Washington, DC.

How many times have people sent ricin to the President of the United States? In recent years, both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama were the subject of ricin threats.


Ricin Was Sent toTrump This Week & the Sender Was Possibly from Canada

The most recent example just happened, when a ricin envelope was sent to the White House in September 2020. The ricin package had been intercepted by law enforcement before reaching Trump, CNN reported. While CNN reported it as a package addressed to Trump, The New York Times reported that ricin was detected on an envelope addressed to the White House. An official said the package was sent from Canada. Read more in Heavy’s story here.


William Clyde Allen III Was Arrested & Charged in 2018 with Sending Ricin to Officials, Including Trump

In 2018, William Clyde Allen III was arrested in connection with ricin detected on mail sent to government officials, including then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Adm. John Richardson, Chief of  Naval Operations. Another suspicious envelope was sent to Trump and two to Ted Cruz’s campaign headquarters. A federal grand jury returned a seven-count indictment on October 18, 2018, charging Allen in connection with the threats.

Allen had technically sent crushed castor beans to Trump and he said he was trying to send a message, ABC News reported. Each letter had a note that read: “Jack and the Missile Bean Stock Powder.”

The letters weren’t his first time to threaten public officials, ABC News reported. In 2015, he emailed the CIA and threatened to kill the President. In 2017, he sent a bomb threat to Lackland Air Force Base, and he sent an email to Utah officials in 2018 threatening imminent radiation attacks.


In 2013, a Letter with Ricin was Sent to President Obama

In May 2013, anonymous letters were sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with traces of ricin on them. A letter was also sent to Mark Glaze, who was then the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns in Washington, D.C. A letter was also sent to President Barack Obama.

Shannon Richardson was charged, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Richardson lived in New Boston, Texas, when the letters were sent. They had low concentrations of ricin and were discovered before there were any injuries. The letters read: “You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right. What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”

Richardson had originally blamed her husband, but didn’t pass a polygraph. Her computers had texts of the letters, and her husband was at work when the letters were printed. She then claimed that she mailed the letters because her husband forced her to do so. Her husband denied her allegations.


In 2013, a Man Sent Letters with Ricin to Obama, Trying to Frame a Rival

Also in 2013, J. Everett Dutschke of Mississippi pleaded guilty to mailing ricin-laced letters to officials, including one to Obama, The New York Times reported. The letters were signed “K.C.”, an Elvis impersonator who was briefly arrested. But he and Dutschke had an ongoing feud.

Although not connected to the President, four men in Georgia were arrested in 2011 and charged with plotting to spread ricin in five cities. The plot targeted federal and state officials, The New York Times reported.

There have also been incidents of people sending anthrax letters to politicians, including a series of anthrax attacks in 2001 that started a week after the September 11 attacks. One person who was under surveillance by the FBI died by suicide in 2008.

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