Prescription Poisons: Two Odd Cases

08 Dec

Poisons have been used as a method of murder for many centuries. The Grand Dame of poisons has always been arsenic but there many others available, including prescription medications. A couple very unusual recent cases underline this fact.

Kisha Jones of Brooklyn decided to take matters into her own hands when she discovered that Monique Hunter was pregnant with the child that she assumed had been fathered by Jones’s boyfriend. It appears that she decided that if Hunter was allowed to carry the child to term that this baby would forever link Hunter and the boyfriend and more or less push Jones out. So what would any rational person do? Get rid of the baby, of course.

Cytotec (misoprostol) is a drug that is commonly used to prevent stomach ulcers. It also has the side nasty effect of inducing premature labor and abortion. The perfect drug for Jones’s purposes. But how was she to get a hold of it? Jones stole a prescription pad and wrote a prescription to Hunter for the Cytotec. She then convinced Hunter that she worked in a doctor’s office and that the medication was to prevent her baby from having Down Syndrome. Of course, Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder and Cytotec has no place in preventing its occurrence. Hunter, not knowing this, took the medication and as expected went into premature labor. Fortunately, the child survived.

In order to convince Hunter that she was indeed from a doctor’s office, Jones used to spoofing technique through a private company. Apparently the service allows the user to adopt someone else’s caller ID and even to disguise the user’s voice. In this case, Jones spoofed the doctors phone number and then disguised her voice so that it would not be recognized. Hunter believed that the call did indeed originate from her doctor and that she should take the new medication as directed.

The child’s survival did not deter Jones however. While Hunter was in the hospital, Jones called and said she was sending over breast milk for the baby. A man then showed up containing two containers of a white liquid. Hospital personnel became suspicious and called the police. The so-called milk was then tested and found to be contaminated with chemical. The police have not revealed what this chemical was but it was an obvious attempt at doing away with the baby. Sort of a retroactive abortion.

The second case took place in Iran. Ramin Pourandarjani, a doctor at Kahrizak prison, testified that protesters, who were arrested for marching and speaking out against the ruling regime, were tortured and murdered at the prison. These deaths had been reported to be from suicide or even meningitis but according to the doctor this was not the case. The Iranian regime took issue and apparently decided to silence the doctor. A significant amount of propranolol was placed in a salad that the doctor ate. Again the regime stated that his death was a suicide and that the doctor committed suicide because he was under investigation for failure to fulfill his duties and killed himself to avoid the investigation. Sure.

Propranolol is a class of drugs that we call beta blockers. These are very useful for the treatment of high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, migraine headaches, certain types of tremors, and even stage fright. They dramatically slow the heart rate and lower the blood pressure and, if enough of any of them is taken, can easily lead to shock and death. This is apparently what happened to Dr. Pourandarjani.

So when you’re plotting your story and need that perfect poison, you have to look no further than your medicine cabinet.


7 responses to “Prescription Poisons: Two Odd Cases

  1. Heather Moore

    December 9, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Very interesting. I’ve been doing some research for a book. Is is possible for a “character” to die of inhaling a power form of cyanide?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      December 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm

      Absolutely. Both Sodium and Potassium cyanide are white powders. Inhaling or snorting either would lead to a very quick death.


  2. Heather Moore

    December 10, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Thank you! Now I don’t have to revise 🙂


  3. Joanna Slan

    December 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Doug, thanks for explaining this. I’d read about the case and wondered exactly what happened–the newspaper accounts were too vague.


  4. Melissa Sugar

    January 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Another interseting article. any person who will take the life on an innocent child deserves the punishment reserved for the most heinous crimes. I was shocked by the “Spoof” element of the story. I know many lawyers and investigators who use spoof calling cards to change the caller I.D. number that they are calling from. They use this in an effort to track down reluctant material witnesses to crimes.
    Louisiana is one of the states who have bills pending in the Legislature to outlaw the use of Spoof cards. The bill originated from a woman who was using the card to check her soon to be ex-husband’s voice mail. She simply entered his cell number as the number she wished to call and then when prompted to enter the”spoof” number to appear on calller I.D. she again entered the husband’cell. The cell carrier was “spoofed” into believing that the cell phone was calling it’s own number (obviously through a person’s use), but the result of entering the same number as number called and number calling, was to give access to voice mail without the need to enter a pin or password. She was actually pretty clever. It’s just a shame that she waste all of her creative juices and talent on finding ways to invade the privacy of others.
    The spoof cards have a waiver for the purchaser to sign , indicating that he or she will not use the card for anything illegal. We all know that a piece of papaer or an e-signature is not going to stop someone who has already formaulated the intent to spy or much worse, induce premature labor. How sad. I wonder what the status of the legality of the spoof cards is in her state??


  5. iriserlings

    January 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Hmmm, interesting. I just started taking propranolol (rx-ed by my neurologist) for migraines, 80 mg at bedtime. How much would I need to do away with my (fictional!) vic?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      January 22, 2013 at 6:04 am

      It depends on the size, weight, and general health of the victim, particularly heart and lung issues, what other meds or illegal drugs he was taking, whether it was taken on an empty stomach or not, and of course luck. Even if all this is known, it is difficult to calculate the exact dose. In fiction, simply give the victim some, have him die, and the reader will assume that whatever amount was given was enough.



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