A Stanford graduate student studying cancer biology was banned from campus for poisoning her classmates.
Xiangyu Ouyang, 26, was charged with four counts of poisoning after she admitted to spiking her classmates’ water bottles with paraformaldehyde, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
In a criminal complaint published by the Fountain Hopper, an anonymous campus publication, one student told police she “immediately experienced a burning sensation in her mouth and throat. Her eyes became irritated and watery. She began salivating uncontrollably. Her throat was burning so bad that she could not even swallow the water.”
The incident was one of several that began in September, according to the criminal complaint. Another student found all of her stem cell cultures dead.
But Ouyang told authorities that her behavior was a cry for help. “I am truly sorry for what had happened, but I really didn’t mean to harm people,” she said in a police report, according to Vice.
One classmate described her as “awkward and strange, but not having any glaringly obvious issues.” Another said she was “quiet, shy and unsure of herself.” But no one suspected that she wished anybody any harm.
Ouyang told police that she had been on antidepressants but had stopped taking the medication prior to the poisonings, the Chronicle reports.
“This was a sad, heartbreaking situation for everyone involved,” university spokeswoman Lisa Lapin told the paper. “This was a confined, isolated circumstance, and there was no threat to the broader campus community. The university has been providing support to the group impacted.”
The 26-year-old is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation and is due in court on May 15.
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