Debora Green was a bright, ambitious medical student. After filing for divorce from her first husband Duane, she married Michael Farrar a fellow student finishing up his last year of medical school. The couple had three children Timothy, Kate, and Kelly. Though the marriage was never ideal, it seemed stable. The two worked long hours and often were separated, but the separation was more practical than romantic.
By the fall of 1995 the couple’s relationship was strained. The tensions reached a critical point when Farrar asked for a divorce. Green reportedly reacted to his request explosively, shouting and throwing things. She also became increasingly dependent on drugs, taking sedatives and narcotics to manage pain and depression from a variety of ailments.
On October 24, 1995 the family home caught fire. Though daughter Kate and her mother escaped, Timothy and Kelly were killed in the blaze. Police detectives interviewed Green shortly afterward, and she was clearly distressed about her children’s deaths. She chanted rhythmically and appeared unable to care for herself.
At some point prior to the fire, she had purchased a package of castor bean seeds. The seeds were later tested and found to contain ricin, which killed the children. An FBI criminologist testified that he had tested Green’s blood for ricin antibodies and had found them in high concentrations, indicating she had been poisoned by the substance. She later denied she had intentionally poisoned her children and said she had been ill.