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June 10, 2014

Oklahoma man accused of plotting to poison pregnant girlfriend with ricin

ADA, Okla. — An Oklahoma City man accused of plotting to poison his pregnant girlfriend and her unborn child with ricin is facing a preliminary hearing later this month.

Preston H. Rhoads, who was charged in April with two counts of solicitation of murder and two counts of attempting to kill another person, is accused of producing the deadly poison ricin and asking a former co-worker to help poison his girlfriend, Shanisty Whittington.

Rhoads, 30, allegedly met with a former co-worker the night of April 9 at Rhoads’ home in Oklahoma City, according to an affidavit for his his arrest. Rhoads asked the co-worker if he was familiar with the TV show “Breaking Bad,” then showed him a vial of white powder.

Ricin played a role in several episodes of the show in which a chemistry teacher turned meth cook produces the poison to kill another character.

Rhoads allegedly told the other man that he had downloaded instructions on making ricin from the Internet. He allegedly said that he wanted to hire the other man to poison Whittington and kill her unborn child.

Oklahoma City Detective Keith Medley said Rhoads suggested several possible ways to carry out the plot, such as putting the ricin in a soft drink and giving it to Whittington. In another scenario, Rhoads proposed sprinkling the ricin on a pizza and having the other man deliver it to Whittington.

Rhoads offered to pay the other man to pose as a pizza delivery worker, then decided against the scheme because Whittington lived with her parents, who might be harmed in the process.

Rhoads also suggested shooting Whittington with a .22-caliber rifle, but he gave up on that idea because he feared that authorities could trace the gun back to him. Another proposal, which was also abandoned, involved using a rental car to run Whittington off the road.

After the former co-worker told Rhoads that he did not want to participate in the plot to poison Whittington and her unborn child, Rhoads became angry and said he should never have revealed his plans.

Following the April 9 meeting, the former co-worker contacted the FBI in Oklahoma City to report the conversation. An FBI agent familiar with weapons of mass destruction said the items taken from Rhoads’ house were consistent with tools used to make ricin. Tests later confirmed that ricin was present in the house.

The FBI and the Oklahoma City Police Department worked together on the case, and authorities arrested Rhoads on April 17.

Information for this story was reported by The Ada News.

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