chemist accused of poisoning husband

A bizarre and unpleasant case out of Monroe Township, New Jersey... Last week, 40-year-old research chemist Tianle "Heidi" Li was arraigned on murder charges, accused of poisoning her estranged husband, Xiaye Wang: Before Monroe man's fatal poisoning, couple had history of domestic disputes.

The couple had been going through bitter divorce proceedings, including a fight for custody of their 2-year-old child, when Wang suddenly developed severe "virus-like" symptoms. He died twelve days later from what turned out to be thallium poisoning:
After Wang admitted himself into the hospital, his condition progressively deteriorated until he died Jan. 26, the day after doctors finally determined he was suffering from thallium poisoning. After much searching, an antidote was found but by the time it arrived at the hospital, Wang was near death and nothing could be done to save him.

The divorce hearing, which was postponed due to his illness, had been rescheduled for today.

Thallium is a highly toxic heavy metal that is tasteless and odorless. It was once used in rat poison and insecticides, but was banned for that use in the United States and other counties in the 1980s. It is still used in glass and electronics manufacturing and medicinally in stress tests to help diagnose coronary artery disease.

Sewitch has not said how the thallium was administered, nor whether it was given in several small doses over time or in one dose. All he would confirm was that it was ingested in December or January. He also would not comment on where Li allegedly obtained the thallium, though he did say it would have been available to her at Bristol-Myers, where she’s worked since 2001.
Li is charged with murder and hindering her own apprehension. She entered a plea of not guilty, and is being held in Middlesex County jail in lieu of $4.15 million bail, though her attorney has requested a bail reduction.

Thallium is odorless, colorless, and very difficult to detect, and thallium poisoning is apparently extremely rare. The doctor who eventually diagnosed it was fairly certain that had to be an attempted suicide or homicide. I wonder how quickly it took the cops to narrow down their suspect to Li -- the woman who hated Wang's guts... and just happened to be a chemist with access to thallium. More here: Doctors, scientists searched for antidote for Monroe man dying from thallium poisoning.

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