Entries in Poison (5)


'Black Widow' Killer, 77, Charged with Poisoning New Husband

Hemera/Thinkstock(CAPE BRETON, Nova Scotia) -- An elderly woman known as the "Black Widow" for killing her first husband has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly poisoning her current husband.

Melissa Ann Weeks, also known as Melissa Ann Friedrich, was arrested this week after her husband mysteriously fell and was taken to a hospital in Nova Scotia, where the couple was on vacation. Both Weeks and her husband are 77 years old.

"We were called on Sunday, Sept. 30, by the hospital," said Desiree Vassallo, spokeswoman for the Cape Breton Regional Police. "The hospital had some concerns about a patient that had been admitted, displaying strange symptoms."

Weeks' husband has not been identified by police, but tests confirmed he had been poisoned with an undisclosed substance.

She was charged with "administering a noxious substance," said Vassallo.

Weeks will appear in a Nova Scotia court Friday to attend a bail hearing. It was not known if she had a lawyer.

Week's 1991 conviction for murdering her first husband, Gordon Stewart, earned her the nickname, the "Black Widow."

According to testimony, she drugged Stewart and then ran over him twice with a car outside of Halifax. She was released from prison after serving two years of a six year sentence.

In 2000, she married Robert Edmund Friedrich after just days of courting. The 83-year-old Canadian died in 2002.

Friedrich's family said that she had emptied his bank account of $400,000 and claims that she drugged Friedrich, according to the Canadian Press. According to reports, he was hastily cremated and no autopsy was performed. Weeks was not charged with any crime in his death.

In 2005, Weeks was sentenced to five years in prison on charges that she stole $20,000 from then boyfriend Alexander Stategos.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Palestinians Accuse Israel of Fatally Poisoning Yasser Arafat

AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Israel was accused Tuesday of being behind the killing of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the most official accusation leveled against the Jewish state since Arafat's sudden and mysterious death in November 2004.

"We are accusing Israel of killing Yasser Arafat and poisoning him," said Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the committee charged with investigating Arafat's death, at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "We are asking for a trial for those who assassinated and poisoned Arafat."

Palestinians have long accused Israel of being behind the poisoning of the 75-year-old leader.

Many feel their suspicions were confirmed last week with the release of a documentary by the television network Al Jazeera that found "significant" levels of radioactive polonium on Arafat's personal effects, which his wife had given to the channel for examination by a Swiss forensics laboratory.

"Israel was not involved in the death of Arafat," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev told the Agence France-Presse. "All the medical files are in the hands of the Palestinians and it was not Israel who is preventing their publication."

The Arafat Foundation has now released the medical records online.

Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Qidwa, the head of the foundation, said there's "no longer any doubt" Arafat was "assassinated by poisoning."

The documentary revealed that Arafat was not tested for polonium at the French hospital where he died after being airlifted from the West Bank and that his cause of death was listed as "unknown."

Two years later Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent and critic of Vladimir Putin, was famously killed with polonium in London.

"The French report said that specialized doctors were not able to find a reason or known illness that can explain the causes for the death," said Arafat's former doctor Abdullah al-Bashir on Tuesday. "They said that developments in the illness could not be explained in the framework of pathology … We are ready to work with the Swiss lab to take samples from Arafat's body," he added.

At the end of the film, Arafat's wife, Suha, called for the exhumation of his body for further investigation. The Palestinian Authority and Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, quickly supported the move, with a top Abbas aide saying it could happen "within days."

But on Tuesday, the Palestinian justice minister said no request had yet been made to exhume Arafat.

"The Palestinian people want to know the truth about Arafat's death," Tirawi said. "We should do everything to reach the truth."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Taliban Blamed for Wave of Poison Attacks on Schoolgirls

YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Taliban appears to be stepping up its attack on girls getting an education in Afghanistan by launching what is believed to be the third toxic assault on a school in a week.

On Tuesday, local officials in northern Afghanistan said that 160 schoolgirls complained of being poisoned by the Taliban.  The symptoms included headaches, dizziness and vomiting.

Most of the girls were not seriously injured and were released after treatment at a nearby hospital.

Last week, another alleged attack by the Taliban on a school sickened 120 girls.  That was preceded by a similar report of 40 girls being poisoned at another school.

Some conservative Afghan officials have actually blamed the incident ”to mass hysteria among schoolgirls" although their defenders contend the sheer number of victim complaints cannot be tied to mere hysteria.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Extremists Blamed for Poisoning Afghan Schoolgirls

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Islamic extremists opposed to women's education have been blamed for poisoning as many as 140 schoolgirls Tuesday in the Afghanistan eastern province of Takhar.

District governor Mohammad Hussain said the women, ages 14 to 30, became sick after drinking water from a tank that had apparently been contaminated.  They were all taken to an area hospital for treatment. 

While no deaths were reported, most of the victims either became dizzy or vomited, with at least a few briefly losing consciousness.

Education Department spokesman Jan Mohammad Nabizada said he and others "are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned," while Hussain added that "some radical elements who oppose girls going to school are behind this act."

Millions of women and girls in Afghanistan are now getting an education, which was forbidden when the Taliban ruled the country until their ouster in late 2001.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poison-Needle Assassination Plot Busted in South Korea

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korean officials have arrested a North Korean defector in an alleged poison-needle plot targeting a high-profile anti-Pyongyang activist.

The suspect, only identified by the police as Ahn, is said to be a former commando in his 40s who defected to South Korea in the late 1990s.  The target was activist Park Sang-hak.  A North Korean defector himself, Park leads a group called Fighters for Free North Korea that routinely flies balloons over the two countries’ border with leaflets criticizing the Pyongyang government.

Ahn was reportedly trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Park earlier this month, but South Korean authorities told Park not to proceed fearing an assassination attempt.  Ahn was picked up by police shortly after allegedly carrying poison-tipped needles.  The authorities told Park that the suspected assassin had planned to either poison his drink or jab him with the needles.

Investigators and intelligence officials have not officially commented on the case and have avoided linking this plot directly to North Korea.

The North and South Koreas are still technically at war and Pyongyang has been known to deploy infiltrators and agents to kill targets in the South.  Just last year, a South Korean court jailed two North Koreans posing as defectors.  They confessed that they were on a secret mission to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, the most senior official ever to defect from North Korea.  North Korea denied any existence to such a plot.

In this latest case, if Ahn is charged under South Korea’s National Security Law, he could face the death penalty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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