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Missouri teacher accused of poisoning husband charged with attempted murder

Cole County Sheriff’s Office

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) — A Missouri teacher has been charged with attempted murder after her husband told police he believed she was poisoning him for several weeks — and allegedly captured her adding a toxic plant to his smoothie — court records show.

Jefferson City police said they investigated allegations of “intentional poisoning of a spouse” after the suspect’s husband contacted them this week.

“Authorities were notified by the victim that he believed a period of unexplained illnesses were in fact an intentional act of poisoning,” Jefferson City Police Department said in a news release.

Sarah Scheffer, 37, of Jefferson City, was arrested on Wednesday on a first-degree domestic assault charge, police said. She has since been charged by the Cole County prosecuting attorney with attempted murder in the first degree and armed criminal action, both felonies, court filings show.

Scheffer’s husband suspected her of poisoning his food and beverages for the past six weeks, according to a probable cause statement.

“The victim described eight occurrences in which the defendant provided a beverage or food that had an odd taste and shortly after ingesting he experienced extreme fatigue, confusion, blurred vision, severe cotton mouth, and nausea,” the probable cause statement said.

He confronted her on Jan. 1, after she brought him a beverage with a “bitter taste,” according to the probable cause statement. Scheffer allegedly said she urinated in the beverage, then “admitted to putting an industrial strength adhesive in it,” only to then deny putting anything in the beverage, the statement said.

Her husband decided to install a hidden surveillance camera, which on Tuesday captured Scheffer make a smoothie for him in a blender, according to the probable cause statement. She allegedly added the contents from a green bowl that contained a root from a bag labeled “lily of the valley” that her husband had previously seen on a table in the home, the statement said.

Lily of the valley is a “very poisonous” plant that contains numerous cardiac glycosides, which “slow down the heart and cause irregular heart rhythm,” according to the National Capital Poison Center.

The smoothie, which had been placed in the fridge, was seized by police to be submitted to a state laboratory for testing, according to the probable cause statement.

When questioned by police, Scheffer allegedly admitted to adding the root of the lily of the valley to the blender “with the intent to cause the victim harm,” the probable cause statement said.

“The defendant admitted to knowing that ingesting ‘lily of the valley’ could result in death,” the statement said.

Scheffer is being held on a no-bond arrest warrant at the Cole County Jail. Online court records do not list any attorney information or upcoming court hearings.

Police said they believed she would be at risk for failing to appear in court in response to a criminal summons because she allegedly said she has a relationship with someone who lives in Pakistan and “has conducted Google searches for flights to Pakistan,” the probable cause statement said.

Scheffer is a design and art teacher at Calvary Lutheran High School in Jefferson City, according to Jefferson City ABC affiliate KMIZ. Her name and photo appear to have been removed from the school’s faculty page online following her arrest.

In a statement to KMIZ, Calvary Lutheran High School said it was notified by police Wednesday afternoon of a “criminal matter pertaining to an employee” who has since been placed on leave.

“The alleged conduct was outside of the employee’s association with the school and did not involve a student or any other school personnel,” Calvary Lutheran Executive Director John Christman said in the statement. “As a Christian community, Calvary Lutheran High School believes in protecting the well-being of all individuals who are part of our programs and we seek to respond in a caring and sensitive manner to everyone in our school community.”

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