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Man Wakes From Ricin Coma

FBI Questions Man About Poison

POSTED: 12:27 pm PDT March 14, 2008
UPDATED: 1:39 pm PDT March 14, 2008

The central figure in a hotel ricin scare last month has emerged from a coma, FBI agents said Friday.

Investigators found a vial of powdered ricin in Roger Von Bergendorff's room at the Extended Stay America in February, along with some castor beans. His friends were called in to remove his belongings after Von Bergendorff did not pay the bill and discovered the poison in a plastic bag.

They then turned it over to hotel representatives, who contacted the FBI.

FBI agents then did a complete search of the hotel as well as two other rooms connected with Von Bergendorff and his home in Utah. While some guns were discovered, officials did not find any other evidence of the poison at the locations.

Von Bergendorff checked himself into a hospital on Feb. 14 for what officials called ricin poisoning. He has been in a comatose state ever since.

While he has become cognizant, federal agents said, Von Bergendorff is still in critical condition. Police are questioning him at the hospital, trying to determine why he had so much of the poison.

Von Bergendorff was an animal lover who recently had been beset by financial problems, acquaintences said. Records show he filed for bankruptcy in 2000 in California.

Friends do not know why he would have the poison in his possession.

In previous interviews, FBI agents stated do not think foul play is involved and said the case doesn't appear to be terrorism-related. While they say the poison is not a health threat to the population, authorities aren't sure why the vial of ricin was in the room and have started a full investigation into its creation and who brought it to Las Vegas.

Ricin can be deadly if ingested, inhaled or injected into the body. Authorities said that two-tenths of a milligram is enough to kill a person. It has been used in some cancer research, but it has also been used in assassinations and turned up in the homes of suspected terrorists.

Details in this story are still developing. Stay with FOX5 News and fox5vegas.com for continual updates.

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