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HAZMAT Crews Locate ‘Suspected Toxic Substance’ in Hatboro

diana-web Diana Rocco
Diana Rocco joined the Eyewitness News team as a general assign...
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By Diana Rocco

HATBORO, Pa., (CBS) — New information in the ricin scare in a Montgomery County neighborhood.

Investigators say they’ve found more potentially dangerous substances outside the suspect’s home in Hatboro.

Thursday HAZMAT teams surround a gas pipe on Byberry Road, feet from where 19-year-old Nicholas Helman lives with his mother. A day earlier, Helman was arrested for allegedly trying to poison a rival with ricin (See Previous Story).

“We received information from Bucks County authorities that a piece of evidence possibly related to the case last night that we had involving the ricin may have been hidden under a gas main cover,” Hatboro Police Chief James Gardner said.

HAZMAT crews pulled a small bag containing what is believed to be a toxic substance. Residents were told to shelter in place for more than an hour while investigators and emergency crews surrounded the area, focusing on Jim Howieman’s front yard.

“I heard the helicopters and I walked outside and there was a cop right there and an ambulance.  And then I went out the back door, the cop told me to get in the house and keep the door closed,” Howieman said.  “Hunker on down for a little while, we found it out front of your house.”

Helman is accused of sending ricin to someone he was having problems with, possibly an ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Police say he dropped a birthday card in the victim’s Warminster mailbox two weeks ago containing the poison in a white powdery form. Then he allegedly went to work at this Warrington Target and told a co-worker who alerted police.  Howieman says his nephew is an Eagle Scout with Helman.

“He was a real nice guy, he would say please, thank you, yes ma’am, no ma’am,” Bowieman said. “It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

According to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, they did recover a substance expected to be toxic from this neighborhood. But they said the packaging was intact and there was no threat to the general public.

Helman is currently being held without bail in a correctional county facility.

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