LAS VEGAS - A motel patron hospitalized after possible exposure to the toxin ricin is "holding his own" in intensive care, his cousin said yesterday as investigators puzzled over why the strictly controlled poison was in the man's room.
Thomas Tholen told the Associated Press that he didn't immediately want to say more about Roger Von Bergendorff or the discovery Thursday of several vials of ricin at his extended-stay motel room.
"He's a cousin, and he's holding his own," Tholen, 53, of Riverton, Utah, said in a brief telephone interview.
Police, the FBI, and Homeland Security officials were trying to piece together how several vials of ricin - a rare, deadly poison with no antidote - ended up at the motel several blocks off the Las Vegas Strip.
Adding to the mystery, police said late Friday that firearms, an "anarchist-type textbook," and castor beans were found in the room where the ricin was discovered. Ricin is made from castor beans.
Police and health officials have emphasized that there was no apparent link to terrorist activity. They also say there is no indication of any spread of the deadly substance beyond the vials, which three tests confirmed contained ricin. Authorities have not said how much ricin was involved but expressed confidence they have it all.
"The only positive tests (were) on the powder in question" in the vials, police Captain Joseph Lombardo said late Friday.
The firearms and the book, which was tabbed at a spot containing information about ricin, were seized Tuesday after a manager at the
Tholen took the vials to the motel office in a plastic bag while retrieving Von Bergendorff's belongings from the room, authorities said.
As little as 500 micrograms of ricin, about the size of the head of a pin, can kill a human, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The only legal use for ricin is cancer research.