A Navy veteran from Utah confessed to sending letters containing a poison to President Donald Trump and other top government officials on Wednesday, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the 2nd District Court.
William Clyde Allen III, of Logan, was arrested Wednesday and the U.S. attorney’s office for Utah issued a statement saying federal charges will likely be filed Friday. He’s being held in the Davis County Jail.
Authorities say Allen confessed to having purchased castor beans, which can be turned into the poison ricin, and having sent the letters, according to the probable cause statement. The four letters tested positive for ricin and were sent to the president, FBI director, secretary of Defense and the chief of Naval Operations.
Agents and local law enforcement officials searched Allen’s home, at 380 N. 200 West in Logan, wearing HAZMAT suits due to what an FBI spokesman called “potentially hazardous chemicals.”
Early reports said those letters included the deadly poison ricin, though a Pentagon spokeswoman said Wednesday that two of the letters included castor seeds.
The Pentagon mail-screening facility caught the other two letters and sent them to the FBI. Another envelope was addressed to Trump, though it was intercepted before it reached the White House. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if castor seeds are swallowed, the released ricin can cause injury.
FBI spokesman Doug Davis said of the investigation in Logan that “no wider threat to public safety exists at this time.”
Allen, 39, served in the Navy from 1998 to 2002, working as a damage control fireman apprentice. According to Utah court records, in 2005, he was convicted on two counts of 3rd degree felony child abuse, a case that involved accusations of child-sex abuse of two girls. In 2008, Allen was convicted of attempted aggravated assault. He was released from prison in 2011.
According to Logan police Capt. Tyson Budge, Allen has only lived in the current residence for a few years. In 2017, the Air Force notified Logan police that Allen called in a bomb threat. And earlier this year, Allen is alleged to have sent Utah Gov. Gary Herbert a letter blaming the governor for his wife’s medical problems, Budge said.
Ricin laced letters were sent to former President Barack Obama and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker in 2013. That same year, a North Logan woman attempted to kill herself by eating castor beans, triggering the ricin toxin. While it made her critically ill, she survived.