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March 1, 2008
Bizarre Vegas Ricin Case
The case we reported on yesterday where a case full of the deadly toxin Ricin was found in a Las Vegas hotel room is taking on a surreal quality.
Several developments since then show some extraordinary suspcious activity but the FBI keeps saying that it is not a terrorism related case:
As police tried to piece together how a rare, deadly poison ended up in a motel for transients, the 57-year-old man who could hold the key lay unconscious in a hospital. The guest has been identified:
Adding to the mystery, police said firearms and an “anarchist type textbook” were found in the same room where the ricin was discovered two days later. Capt. Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference late Friday that the book was tabbed at a spot with information about ricin.
Police found the firearms and books on Tuesday after a manager at the Extended Stay America motel called police upon discovering weapons, he said, without elaborating. After authorities seized the book and weapons, tests for ricin were conducted but came back negative, Lombardo said.
He said a 53-year-old friend or relative of the sick man contacted motel management on Feb. 22 to inform them about pets in the room.
The Metropolitan Police Department reported one person has been injured by the biological agent. That man has been in critical condition at Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center for more than two weeks. Just what is going on here? "Nothing to see" say the Vegas cops:
Police said the man is 57 years old and was staying in the suite at the Extended Stay America on Valley View Boulevard near Flamingo Road where the ricin was found. Police have not identified the man, but a Homeland Security internal document obtained by the Review-Journal states that he is Roger Von Bergendorff.
The man placed an emergency call from the suite on Feb. 14, saying he was in respiratory distress and asking to be transported to a hospital, police said. "He's unable to speak with us right now," said Deputy Chief Kathy Suey, who leads the Police Department's Homeland Security Division.
The Las Vegas hotel suite where vials of ricin were found Thursday also contained guns and literature about anarchy with information on the deadly toxin, police said Friday. And read what the police spokesman says about the terrorism angle:
Nevertheless, Las Vegas police continued to downplay the significance of the ricin discovery, saying they had ruled out terrorism as a motive.
"I want to assure everybody that the Las Vegas Valley is safe," Las Vegas police Capt. Joseph Lombardo said. "We don't currently have any terrorist threat at this time or possibility of contamination (due) to ricin."
Lombardo said: “I don’t want to make any conclusions with the anarchist-type textbook. It doesn’t make you a terrorist because you have this type textbook. It doesn’t make you a terrorist if you possess firearms.... Suey said people could have any number of reasons for wanting to make ricin. “It could be experimental just to see if they can,” she said.This case is getting curioser and curioser. Who are these people? An anarchist "cook book" (presumably not THE Anarchist Cookbook that has been in circulation since the 1960's) which probably contains instructions on how to use Ricin as a terrorist weapon?
The dots are not connecting in this csae - especially the weird, strained denial that it has nothing to do with terrorism. it should be interesting to follow as more threads are unravelled.