A Missouri man was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in federal prison after making two attempts to buy a chemical weapon on the dark web and pay for it with Bitcoin in a conspiracy to poison a woman who had ended a relationship with him, prosecutors mentioned.
The man, Jason William Siesser, 46, of Columbia, Missouri, pleaded guilty last year to one count of attempting to acquire a chemical weapon and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to Federal Court records. He appeared remotely at the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Prosecutors said that when he placed orders for dimethylmercury, Mr Siesser used the name of a youth who had been placed in his care through the group home company he worked for.
Exposure to a few drops of dimethylmercury, a highly toxic organomercury compound, can be fatal, according to the American Council on Science and Health. A permit is required to purchase the clear, fragrant liquid, which has few uses outside of scientific research and is classified as a chemical weapon when used in an unintended way. Its fatal effects received wide attention for their role in the death of a Dartmouth College professor after a laboratory accident in 1996.
Mr Siesser, in August 2018, ordered three 10-milliliter units of the chemical – enough to kill around 300 people – for the equivalent of $ 150 in cryptocurrency, according to investigators, who said during a search of his home, they had found writings. about his broken heart and his vow to hurt.
“They say I should give up but my hatred is too strong,” Siesser wrote, according to prosecutors. “Letting go of the anger is the right thing but it makes me feel so strong that I dream of your end You are burning in flames You are choking with your own blood Your completely exhausted soul.”
Christopher Slusher, a lawyer for Mr Siesser, said in an interview on Tuesday that his client, a former teacher who had served in the military, suffered from mental health issues.
“He expressed his remorse in court,” Mr. Slusher said. “He’s never been in trouble before that.
Investigators said Mr Siesser had been the guardian of two minors and used various combinations of the first, middle and last names of one of them on orders for the toxic substance.
The youngster said Mr Siesser told him he wanted to be an assassin and kill those who wronged him in the past, including Mr Siesser’s ex-wife and the woman who broke off his relationship with Mr. Siesser after three dates, according to the affidavit.
Mr Siesser had previously attempted to buy dimethylmercury from a legitimate chemical supplier on the internet, but the sale was refused despite lacking the required permit, authorities said.
It was then, according to the criminal affidavit, that he turned to what he believed to be a dark web salesman and was trapped in an undercover operation. He admitted to the potential seller that his acquisition of the chemical posed a risk of death to anyone who came in direct or indirect contact with it and said he planned to use it soon after receiving it, said the authorities said.
In August 2018, Mr. Siesser signed for a package that had been delivered to his home. He believed it contained dimethylmercury, but an inert substance was locked up instead.
Investigators said Mr Siesser read the story of a scientist who died after being exposed to dimethylmercury. It was not immediately clear whether the scientist was Karen E. Wetterhahn, a professor of chemistry at Dartmouth College and founding director of Dartmouth’s Superfund Toxic Metals Research Program.
In 1996, as Dr. Wetterhahn was transferring the toxin from one container to another, a drop or two of the dense liquid dripped onto his latex glove near his thumb. Less than a year later, she died after developing severe neurological impairment and fell into a coma.
When Mr Siesser was questioned by investigators, they said, he told them he wrote fictional stories about men taking revenge on their ex-girlfriends.
“In one story, a man used a fertilizer spreader to lace a woman’s yard with asbestos, which ultimately killed her decades later,” the affidavit states. “In another story, a man locked a woman in scuba gear in a submerged box so that she would die when her oxygen cylinder was exhausted.”