One teen in Pennsylvania took his high school Shakespeare readings a little too literally when he allegedly sent his romantic rival a scratch-and-sniff birthday card filled with the deadly poison ricin.
Nicholas Helman, who is 19, reportedly sent the card to his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend in an attempt to scare her and win her back. The day after mailing it, Nicholas confessed to a co-worker at his job at Target about what he had done, and the co-worker immediately contacted the police -- just moments before the intended recipient's sister was about to retreive the mail.
After receiving the tip from the Target worker, cops called the victim's house and spoke with his mother, who told them the mail was being picked up at that very moment. They were able to get there before anyone opened up the poisoned birthday card, which indeed tested positively for ricin. Officials say anyone who so much as comes into contact with an envelope filled with ricin could die within four days.
According to police, Nicholas ordered castor beans and sodium hydroxide online and was able to make the toxic substance himself -- which is truly a frightening thought. When they raided his home, they found a backpack containing a bottle of sodium hydroxide along with a notebook containing a recipe for how to make ricin. The teen had apparently been harassing his rival for months by sending him threatening messages.
One really sad aspect of this story is that Nicholas, who is being charged with attempted murder, is being hailed by friends and his father as a really smart, "tech savvy" kid who didn't always apply himself. I feel terrible for the family of the victim who had to deal with a nightmarish situation that has probably scared them half to death -- not to mention the girlfriend of the boy who I'm sure is spooked out of her mind by this incident -- but I can't help feeling for Nicholas and his family, as well. How did he go from being a young boy who reportedly showed talent in math and science to an older teen capabale of allegedly poisoning a peer?
What do you think drove this teen to put ricin in a birthday card and send it to another boy?
Image via Lindsay/Flickr