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Puffer Fish Poisonous Affair Shows Love Will Never Die

(CBS 2 Chicago)
Edward F. Bachner IV

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) Love will never die in the apparently poisonous affair of a man accused of trying to kill his wife with a deadly fish toxin in order to collect $20 million in life insurance, prosecutors say.

Edward F. Bachner IV and his wife Rebecca mouthed "I love you" to each other in a court hearing last week before he pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to kill her for millions.

Bachner, of Lake in the Hills, Illinois, entered the plea last Thursday. Last year, he pleaded not guilty to posing as a doctor to buy the puffer fish poison.

New charges allege the 35-year-old fraudulently purchased more than $20 million in life insurance in his wife's name then set out to kill her with Tetrodotoxin, a lethal poison found in puffer fish. He is also accused of hiring someone to kill his wife in 2005 and, in a separate matter, charged with lying to the IRS in an effort to collect more than $538,000 in income tax refunds the government didn't owe him.

The complaint says as little as four milligrams of the toxin can kill a human. It says Bachner ordered 98 milligrams.

The bizarre case surfaced in July when federal agents arrested Bachner after catching him taking delivery of a shipment of tetrodotoxin, which can be fatal when fish containing the substance are eaten. It is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

(Kike Calvo via AP Images)

Agents also found syringes, needles and a book on how to poison people when they searched his home in suburban Lake in the Hills, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney James Marcus, who has said the book was a reference work for would-be crime novelists. Marcus also has questioned whether a plot to kill Bachner's wife existed. Rebecca Bachner has attended her husband's court proceedings since his arrest.

Bachner originally was charged with lying to get the toxin, claiming it was for scientific research. The FBI said in an affidavit that a cooperating witness received several anonymous messages in 2005 soliciting the killing of an unnamed woman in the Chicago area. One of the messages offered payment of $8,000 and an AK-47 assault rifle for the job.

Tuesday's indictment charged that Bachner bought the toxin for the specific purpose of killing his wife and collecting life insurance. Bachner made a wire transfer of $39,989.49 from his bank account to Peterson International Underwriters of Valencia, Calif., in February 2008 to buy the $20 million policy, according to the indictment.

Bachner has been in federal custody since his arrest and U.S. District Judge Federick Kapala in Rockford has denied several bond requests, saying he wasn't convinced Bachner was no danger.

Bachner's due in court again on Aug. 6.

June 18, 2009 - Husband's Alleged Poisonous Plot Blown Up!

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