A Dulzura man faces attempted murder charges after it was discovered he repeatedly fed his wife a chemical once used to kill rats, authorities said Thursday.
Race Remington Uto, 27, an active duty Navy sailor, was arrested last Thursday after a joint investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO).
The arrest came more than two weeks after Uto’s wife was admitted to an area hospital with an unknown illness, SDSO Lt. Lt. Greg Rylaarsdam said. Medical staff was able to determine that the woman had an "extreme level of Thallium in her system."
According to an affidavit, Uto's wife began feeling sick last September and eventually got so sick that she lost all of her hair and could barely move her limbs.
Thallium is a heavy metal that was used as a rat poison and ant killer until it was banned in the 1960s. The chemical is so dangerous that it's considered a weapon of mass destruction by the U.S. government and can't be purchased over the counter anywhere in San Diego County.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Reizen said Thallium is known as the poisoner's poison because its colorless, odorless and tasteless properties make it hard to detect.
"It can inflict a great deal of pain in its application or it can be used in such a high dose where it causes death immediately, so it really gives the person who is poisoning a great deal of flexibility with how they want to poison their victim," Reizen said.
SDSO detectives believe Uto's wife had ingested the chemical in her food and drink over the span of months and that her exposure to the poison was intentional.
A Hazardous Materials team searched through Uto's home. Evidence from the home allowed them to take Uto into custody, SDSO said.
Uto was booked into the Vista Detention Facility and is being held at $2 million bail. He faces several charges of attempted murder and poisoning.
If convicted, Uto faces 45 years to life in prison.