Man Accused of Sending Romantic Rival Ricin-Filled Birthday Card Appears in Court

A suburban Philadelphia teenager charged with sending a romantic rival a greeting card laced with the deadly poison ricin called made took shots at his victim and his ex as he left court this morning.

Nicholas Helman, 19, appeared before District Judge Daniel Finello in Warminster Thursday for a preliminary hearing on charges including attempted murder, aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and simple assault.

In court Thursday, Helman waived his right to a preliminary hearing. He will return to court for a formal arraignment on June 13.

Prosecutors said that if the case goes to trial they could add more counts.

The Bucks County district attorney's office accused Helman in March with delivering a ricin-laced greeting card to the home of his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend.

Back on March 7, Helman allegedly told his co-worker at a Target store in Warrington that he had sent a scratch-and-sniff birthday card laced with ricin to the man.

Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans and can cause injury and even death if chewed, inhaled or swallowed. Helman allegedly told his co-worker that he rubbed ground castor beans onto the inside of the card before sending it to his intended victim's mailbox on Olive Street in Warminster.

Officials say Helman claimed the substance would kill anyone who came into contact with it within four days.

Helman's co-worker called police and Helman was taken into custody.

Two days later, investigators found a container of leftover ricin they allege Helman stashed beneath a gas-main access cap in a front yard near his home.

Helman allegedly told police he coated the card with sodium hydroxide in an attempt to scare his ex-girlfriend so that they could reconcile their relationship. Helman also allegedly sent threatening messages to his ex and her new boyfriend in November of last year, according to investigators.

As he left court Thursday he told reporters that his ex was a "control freak" and that he wished the man who received the letter "would cheer up."

Helman is being held without bail.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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