Poison for the Supreme Court

I found this story from Sandra Day O’Connor (posted at Drudge yesterday) to be interesting.

When federal appellate Judge Danny Boggs said at a Friday legal conference at Las Colinas that physical assaults aimed at judges have come mainly from “the deranged,” O’Connor underscored the safety concerns.

“Every member of the Supreme Court received a wonderful package of home-baked cookies, and I don’t know why, the staff decided to analyze them,” she recounted. “Each one contained enough poison to kill the entire membership of the court.”
I guess it is just morbid curiosity, but I would like to know what type poison was used and whether or not there were any efforts made to find the poison baker. I also wonder how many other stories like this are out there that we never hear about.

Update: Thanks to Matt who pointed me to this New York Times article with all the details I wanted.

Although the episode was not publicly disclosed when it occurred in April 2005, it had a public, although little-noticed, denouement last month when the sender of the poisoned cookies was sentenced in federal court here to 15 years in prison.

The sender, Barbara Joan March of Bridgeport, Conn., pleaded guilty to 14 counts of “mailing injurious articles.” The 14 recipients included the nine justices; the chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; and the director and deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The packages, containing either candy or baked goods, were laced with rat poison.

All mail received at the Supreme Court is screened, and the tainted packages never reached the justices, said Kathleen Arberg, the court’s public information officer. The danger posed by the packages was immediately apparent. Each contained a typewritten letter stating either, “I am going to kill you,” or, “We are going to kill you,” and adding, “This is poisoned.”

The letters carried various return addresses of people who had earlier connections with Ms. March, including seven who attended college with her. The F.B.I. determined that Ms. March wrote and sent the letters, typing a number of them on a typewriter at a public library near her home.I know this is serious stuff, but that “this is poisoned” line made me laugh out loud. Why even go to the trouble to include the actual poison in the food if you are going to tell the person? I’ll bet there are thousands of these kinds of stories over the years. This failed poisoning attempt definitely deserves “dumb criminal” status.

Speaking of dumb criminals

Wichita police said a botched kidnapping ended with one of the assailants shooting himself in the groin.

The man had just stuck the gun back into his waistband when it fired, shooting him in the left testicle. He cringed, causing the gun to fire again and strike him in the left calf. He cringed? I thought cringing was something you did at the thought of something, or in embarrassment. My guess is he did more than cringe.

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13 Comments

  1. waddayknow November 17, 2006
  2. Heralder November 17, 2006
  3. Matt November 17, 2006
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