A federal court has sentenced a Missouri man who tried to buy the deadly poison dimethylmercury, a notoriously toxic substance that can kill in just a few drops on the skin, on the dark web to 12 years in prison.
According to the New York Times, 46-year-old Jason William Siesser of Columbia, Missouri, had already pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to acquire a chemical weapon and aggravated identity theft last year. Siesser, who authorities say was planning to kill his ex, ordered around 30 milliliters of the substance (separated into three 10 milliliter vials). That could theoretically kill up to 300 people depending on how it was administered. Siesser only forked over about $150 in cryptocurrency for the poison.
Siesser, who worked for a group home company, placed his order under the name of a youth in his custody who testified Siesser had ambitions to be an assassin. From the Times:
Investigators said that Mr. Siesser had been the custodial guardian of two minors and had used various combinations of the first, middle and last names of one of them on the orders for the toxic substance.
The youth said Mr. Siesser had told him that he wanted to be an assassin and kill those who had wronged him in the past, including Mr. Siesser’s ex-wife and the woman who broke off her relationship with Mr. Siesser after three dates, according to the affidavit.
Dimethylmercury is an organomercury compound, meaning it’s bound to carbon—which makes it readily absorbed into the body upon exposure. It’s infamous for its role in a 1996 incident when a Dartmouth professor, Dr. Karen Wetterhahn, accidentally spilled one or two drops of the substance onto her latex gloves. She and colleagues didn’t recognize how easily it penetrated the gloves, as the scientific community had underestimated how deadly it actually was due to its relative rarity in lab experiments. Wetterhahn eventually showed extreme neurological symptoms five months later, entered a coma, and died. The Dartmouth lab accident is considered one of the worst ever and resulted in heightened safety standards in chemistry labs.
After a failed attempt to buy the substance from a legitimate online chemical merchant, authorities said, Siesser never came close to actually acquiring dimethylmercury, as he was caught during an undercover FBI investigation. According to the Department of Justice, he was sent a “controlled delivery” of inert substances instead. When serving a search warrant on his residence, the DOJ wrote, agents also discovered “two separate and seemingly unopened shipping boxes on the shelf next to it,” containing 10 grams of toxic cadmium arsenide, 100 grams of cadmium metal, and 500 millileters of hydrochloric acid.
“They say I should let it go But my hatred’s just too strong,” Siesser wrote in documents found in his home, according to prosecutors. “Letting go of anger is the right thing But it makes me feel so strong I dream about your ending You burn up in flames You suffocate on your own blood Your soul completely drained.”