Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old British woman exposed to the nerve agent Novichok late last month, died Sunday, and authorities are treating her death as a murder.
Sturgess and Charlie Rowley, 45, became seriously ill on June 30 after coming into contact with the Russian nerve agent; Rowley remains hospitalized in critical condition. Sturgess and Rowley were found unconscious inside a home in Amesbury, just eight miles away from Salisbury, where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned in a Novichok attack in March. They both survived.
Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled and shocked" by Sturgess' death. Police confirmed that tests came back showing Sturgess and Rowley touched a contaminated item with their hands, but they are trying to determine where and when this happened. The British government pinned the earlier attack on the Kremlin, but the Russian government has denied any involvement. The BBC reports that the working hypothesis is Sturgess and Rowley found and touched a leftover container from the Skripal attack. Catherine Garcia
On Wednesday, scientists confirmed that a man and woman in Amesbury, England, found unconscious on Saturday were poisoned by Novichok, the nerve agent used in March to attack a former Russian spy and his daughter just eight miles away.
At first, police believed that drugs caused Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45, to lose consciousness, but on Wednesday authorities started investigating other theories. Sturgess and Rowley are in critical condition at the same hospital where Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, nearly died after they were poisoned by the nerve agent, developed in the Soviet Union and Russia. Britain has blamed the Russian government for that attack.
Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Neil Basu said 100 counterterrorism detectives are now investigating the Sturgess and Rowley poisoning. Basu told the public not to worry, as no one else has come forward exhibiting any similar symptoms, and police have cordoned off areas where Sturgess and Rowley were prior to becoming ill. "The priority for this investigation team now is to establish how these two people have come into contact with this nerve agent," Basu said. Catherine Garcia