Aiken students accused of conspiring to make ricin

Two Aiken High School students have been accused of conspiring to make ricin, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

The leader of a school group notified police about some suspicious activity that took place while the group was on a field trip to the zoo and botanical gardens in Columbia, according to an incident report. The two students were heard discussing making ricin, a highly toxic protein produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant.

The students told their group they wanted to go to the botanical gardens at the zoo in order to find a castor oil plant, which is used to make ricin, the report stated. Other students confirmed the reports.

Each of the students told officers it was the other's idea to find the plant and make the ricin, according to the report. The students' parents were also contacted regarding the incident.

The students have not been charged, according to Capt. Mary Ann Burgess, a spokeswoman for Aiken Public Safety.

“Based on our investigation, I don't expect any charges,” she said, adding that the investigation is ongoing. State and federal authorities have been notified, but Burgess said Aiken Public Safety is handling the investigation.

Burgess said the castor oil plant was never touched, and the students never stated their intentions for producing the ricin.

“The kids did not have anything or take anything that could produce ricin,” she said.

Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.

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