A 67-year-old man accused of attempting to poison his 63-year-old girlfriend with water spiked with chlorine told the court that the liquid was purchased online as an alternative health product.
The Marin County District Attorney's Office decided not to prosecute Robert Lewis Lochridge, 67, who was booked in Marin County Jail on Saturday on suspicion of attempted murder, poisoning or altering a drink and cruelty toward a dependent adult.
Deputy District Attorney Charles Cacciatore said Lochridge did not appear in court and was released Tuesday evening from the Marin County Jail where he was being held under $500,000 bail. The district attorney's office and San Rafael police will conduct "a complete and thorough investigation to determine whether charges will be filed,” he said.
"We have other avenues to explore and we will do it painstakingly and accurately," Cacciatore said. The case began on Friday when police received reports from staff at the senior facility Northgate Care Center, located on 40 Professional Center Parkway, who they were concerned about discolored bottled water that Lochridge was allegedly bringing to his girlfriend, according to police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher.
Police discovered that one bottle of the water contained more chlorine than there was in an entire pool and a Terra Linda pool service employee told them that he wouldn’t even swim in a pool with that amount of the chemical, Rorhbacher said.
Lochridge told the court that he bought the water, called Miracle Mineral Supplement or MMS, online and that it was meant to cure a variety of illnesses–from arthritis to cancer to HIV. The product's website instructs consumers to mix one to two drops of the liquid with something acidic, such as lemon juice.
"If you notice diarrhea, or even vomiting that is not necessarily a bad sign. The body is simply throwing off toxins and cleaning itself out," the website said.
The Food and Drug Administration warned against the use of MMS, stating that mixture "produces chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach often used in industrial water treatment and stripping textiles," according to CNN Health. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and life threatening low-blood pressure from dehydration.
Lochridge told the victim that the water contained minerals that were good for her health and that she needed to consume 4 ounces every hour. He installed a small refrigerator in her room and stocked it full of the bottles, according to Rohrbacher.
The victim was taken to Marin General Hospital after the discovery and was released. She lived with Lochridge in the San Jose area for three years before coming to San Rafael several months ago.
“She already has some health problems, but we don’t know at this time what kind of long-term effects the chlorine had on her health,” Rohrbacher told Patch.
It is unclear how long the victim consumed the water, but Rohrbacher estimated for a period of two to three weeks. Several bottles were found in her room, and the San Rafael police forensics team is currently running more tests.
Chief Deputy Public Defender Debra Leyva told the Marin Independent Journal that Lochridge "had no ill intentions, this was just a giant misunderstanding," and with further investigation, the court will see "he only had her best interests in mind."
Bay City News contributed to this report.
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