OSHKOSH (WITI/AP) — The FBI is investigating a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student after two professors became concerned that he might be trying to make the deadly toxin ricin. Ricin is a powdery substance that can cause respiratory failure if inhaled.
Oshkosh Northwestern Media reported Monday, November 3rd that the investigation came to light when a search warrant was filed in Winnebago County Circuit Court.
A 21-year-old Oshkosh man is in jail as this investigation continues.
This all started last Wednesday, October 29th. On Friday, October 31st, police and FBI agents searched a home on Frederick Street.
"When we went inside the residence, we located the hazardous materials," Joseph Nichols with the Oshkosh Police Department said.
The search warrant says officials found a white powdery substance inside the home. Evidence was sent to an FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.
It was a tip from two of the 21-year-old UW-Oshkosh student's professors that sent investigators to the home.
According to the search warrant, on Wednesday, the student asked a professor about making extractions from seeds. The search warrant says when the professor referred the student to a biology professor, the student said "they're all interested in life, and I'm interested in, like, ending it."
Later Wednesday, the search warrant says the student spoke with a biology professor, who has said they discussed making a ribosomal-inhibiting protein.
The search warrant says the biology professor was immediately concerned because he knows the protein can be a deadly poison.
When this professor asked further questions, the search warrant says the student responded by saying he couldn't say much because what he was doing was borderline illegal, and would fall under the classification of a biological weapon.
The search warrant says a detective spoke with the student's roommate on Friday. That roommate told police three castor bean plants were growing in the backyard. According to the search warrant, no plants were recovered.
Owning the plants isn't against the law, but the toxin ricin can be extracted from the plant's seeds.
The 21-year-old student hasn't been charged.