– Engine coolant
– Contains ethylene glycol
– Sweet tasting
– Causes inebriation
– Dyed green to be able to detect it
– One of the top homicidal poisons in USA
The main ingredient in anti-freeze is ethylene glycol which is poisonous. It only takes a small amount of anti-freeze to poison a person. As your body absorbs and metabolises the anti-freeze it is converted into other toxic substances. It can take from 30 minutes to 12 hours for poisoning symptoms to show (the worst symptoms take longer to appear). Initially a person might feel drunk, with symptoms including headache, fatigue, lack of coordination, grogginess, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting. As the anti-freeze continues to break down the chemical can interfere with kidney, lung, brain, and nervous system function. Organ damage can occur 24 to 72 hours after ingestion.
There are two options for antidotes for poisoning by anti-freeze: fomepizole or ethanol. Both drugs can reverse the effects of the poison and prevent further problems, such as permanent organ damage.
Because ethylene glycol has a sweet taste and because anti-freeze is not a suspicious purchase, it is a popular poison, particularly in the USA.
Lynn Turner, from Georgia, fed her husband, and later her boyfriend anti-freeze laced Jello and other food and drinks. She was convicted in 2004 of murder.
A Houston doctor was charged with placing ethylene glycol in claiming the ethylene glycol he placed in a colleague’s coffee was an artificial sweetener.
James Keown was arrested and sentenced to life in prison after feeding his wife a steady diet of anti-freeze in her Gatorade. He had crippling debt and wanted his wife’s quarter of a million life insurance policy.
This was the exact motive of Angelina Rodriguez who tried three times to kill her husband before succeeding, also adding anti-freeze to his Gatorade. She was sentenced to death. Rodriguez tried at least three times to kill her husband Frank, finally succeeding, on September 9, 2000, by spiking his Gatorade with antifreeze. Her motive was a $250,000 life insurance policy. She was also convicted of threatening a witness to whom she had revealed her plan to kill Frank.
(Tune into my blog on Monday for a final poisons post)