A bag recovered last week from inside the cover of a gas main tested positive for ricin, investigators tell NBC10.com.
On March 20, hazmat crews recovered a package from under the cover of a gas main on South New Street in Hatboro, Montgomery County -- near the Byberry Road apartment of 19-year-old Nicholas Todd Helman, who was arrested on March 19 on attempted murder charges.
"Late this afternoon we became aware of some information that the individual may have secreted some evidence into a gas main cover," said Hatboro police Chief James Gardner last week. "We believe we have located something of interest."
Even though officials emphasized there was no threat of imminent danger, residents were asked to stay in their homes while crews worked to recover the package. Authorities gave neighbors the okay to go outside later on.
On Tuesday, the Bucks County District Attorney told NBC10 that a vial found inside the bag tested positive for ricin, a poison found naturally in castor beans that can cause injury and even death if chewed, inhaled or swallowed.
At this point, police have not yet confirmed whether the bag and vial belonged to Helman. They continue to investigate.
Helman allegedly sent a scratch-and-sniff birthday card laced with ricin to a man dating his ex-girlfriend. Police say they were tipped off to the card after Helman's co-worker notified them about his possible intentions. They were able to stop the man's family from opening the card, officials said.
The victim is from Warminster, Bucks County, which is why the Bucks County District Attorney's Office is taking the lead on the investigation, officials said.