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Poisoning plot fails

July 13, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County woman who police allege tried to kill her husband by putting rat poison in his food was charged with attempted murder Tuesday.

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Tracey Lenette Lewis, 35, of Bunker Hill, was released on $20,000 bond after she was arraigned in Berkeley County Magistrate Court on a felony charge of attempting to kill or injure by poison.

An employee at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg told police that Tracey Lewis had told their daughter she had put rat poison in her husband's food in an attempt to kill him, according to allegations contained in court records.

The daughter, who was working as a babysitter for Tracey Lewis' 10-year-old son, told police the woman told her on July 1, 1999, that two or three months previously, she had put D-Con rat poison in Ray Lewis' food, court records alleged.

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The babysitter told police that Tracey Lewis also claimed to have fed her husband black capsules of speed, court records said.

The girl said Tracey Lewis described a plan to drug her husband and slice his wrists to create the appearance of suicide then asked the girl if she knew where she could find some morphine, according to court records.

After talking with the girl, West Virginia State Police on July 10 set up a controlled telephone call and had the girl call Tracey Lewis to tell her where she could get morphine, police said.

The girl gave Tracey Lewis the name and phone number of "JJ," a state trooper and member of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crime Task Force using a fictitious name, police said.

Two days later, on July 12, police wired the babysitter with a concealed radio transmitter and tape recorder and taped a conversation between the girl and Tracey Lewis as the two drove from the girl's home to the Lewis home, where the girl was to babysit, police said.

Tracey Lewis allegedly told the girl she had used D-Con rat poison on her husband and that the poison had not been discovered during a recent doctor's visit he had made, court records said.

Tracey Lewis told the girl she had film that showed her with bruises but she was afraid her husband would find out if she had it developed, police said.

She then told the girl that "maybe a hit man would be better yet," court records alleged.

State police approached Lewis a short time after the tape was made and told her she was being investigated for possibly poisoning the food of Ray Lewis, 47, of Bunker Hill, police said.

Lewis told police she had put one tablet of D-Con rat poison in her husband's food approximately one year ago, according to allegations in court records.

State police said the Lewis case remained under investigation and refused further comment.

The primary danger of D-Con rat poison to humans is that it hampers the body's ability to clot blood, according to Dr. Elizabeth Scharman, director of the West Virginia Poison Center.

The poison can result in uncontrolled internal bleeding, which can be lethal, Scharman said.

The center does not comment on lethal doses of any poisons. Scharman said, however, that D-Con can be toxic for humans in a single large ingestion or multiple small ingestions.

The presence of rat poison in a human being would not show up during a routine doctor's office visit but could be detected with specific blood tests, Scharman said.

Conviction on a charge of attempting to kill or injure by poison carries a maximum penalty of 18 years in prison, according to court records.

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