A former Stanford University
med student PhD student working within the School of Medicine has been charged with four felony counts for allegedly poisoning fellow students last fall. Vice reported the story following a tip from a member of the student's lab to Fountain Hopper, an anonymous Stanford website that's been in the news for alerting students of their right to request admissions files from institutions.
Authorities allege that the 26-year-old female student who had arrived at Stanford after studies in Singapore put paraformaldehyde in classmates' water bottles. Peers reportedly smelled the substance on bottles "for weeks," with at least two of them experiencing burning and negative reactions. Fortunately, it sounds as if none experienced lasting injury. All of the victims, like the student, are Asian women.
Though the accused student has admitted to interfering with research samples — another researcher's mouse stem cell samples "started to mysteriously die" — and confessed to the poisoning almost immediately, she claimed to be “not conscious” of her actions. According to her attorney, she is currently out on $50,000 bail and awaiting psychiatric evaluation followed by a May court date. Court documents suggest she could plead insanity. Previously, she had sought psychological care from the university, telling the Stanford Department of Public Safety that she had been suffering from conditions like severe insomnia, dizziness, depression, and "a disconnection from reality." She did, per her testimony, see a psychologist three or four times before being referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed her antidepressants which she stopped taking due to headaches.
"I am truly sorry for what had happened, but I really didn't mean to harm people," the accused reportedly described her actions to police, "And I... it was me crying out for help and I didn't know." By peers, she's been described as "very shy and quiet," "very reserved," "unsure of herself," and "strange." In offering her confession, the student told investigators that she "should have gone to the doctor and got treated" but instead "she just kept it within her."