LAKE WALES — It seemed like a regular enough domestic situation: a women decides to feed her hungry husband by making him a tuna fish sandwich.
That simple act, though, landed Beth Dickison Richards — a federal worker — in jail, facing a very serious charge: attempted murder.
The fact that her husband became nauseous and dizzy after starting to consume that sandwich is what put Richards behind bars, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said, adding that the Lake Wales women admitted to attempting to poison her husband’s meal.
Richards, 37, of 1325 Lakeview Road, Lake Wales, was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail on Friday. She was charged with attempted first degree murder, poisoning food with the intent to kill, possession of Marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. All of these charges, noted Donna Wood, the public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, were done “in connection to the premeditated attempted murder of her husband, Gregory Lawrence Richards.”
What’s known so far in this investigation, Wood reported, is that around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, Polk deputies got a call to respond to the Richards’ home, after being told that a man living there wanted to report a poisoning. The call came from Jessica Jarvis, the suspect’s step-sister, and from Gregory Richards.
What they reported to deputies was a scary brush with fate for the victim — and a confession.
“Jarvis told deputies her step-sister Richards spoke with her earlier in the day and admitted to attempting to poison and kill Gregory by crushing up multiple Trazodone pills and placing them in a tuna fish sandwich for Gregory to eat,” Wood noted in her report on the arrest.
Trazodone is an antidepressant medication, used to treat depression and for relief of anxiety disorders such as sleeplessness and tension.
According to the Web site Drugs.com, it can potentially have lethal side effects in some patients.
“You may have thoughts about suicide when you first start taking Trazodone, especially if you are younger than 24 years old,” the site notes. “Call your doctor at once if you have any new or worsening symptoms. Do not drink alcohol. Trazodone can increase the effects of alcohol, which could be dangerous. Trazodone may impair your thinking or reactions.”
During the investigation into Gregory Richards’ sickness, the victim told deputies that he had eaten part of a tuna fish sandwich earlier in the day, and became nauseous. He went to Lake Wales Medical Center and was treated for nausea and dizziness, then released.
Jarvis said when she asked Beth Richards about her husband’s reaction to the sandwich, she allegedly confessed to putting the antidepressant drug in it. At that point, Jarvis immediately contacted Gregory Richard’s family members to see if he was okay.
“When detectives confronted (Beth) Richards about the incident, she admitted post-Miranda (warning) she attempted to poison her husband, Gregory Richards, by crushing up multiple Trazodone pills and feeding them to Gregory in a tuna fish sandwich,” Wood noted.
During the investigation, a pouch containing Marijuana was found in Beth Richards’ bedroom.
“She admitted the item belonged to her,” Wood added, leading to the drug charges.
She also admitted to being a federal employee, Wood said.
“Richards told detectives she is employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier,” Wood noted.
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