Special Report

The Most Famous Poisonings in History

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Roman Tsepov
> Died:2004

A Russian businessman with ties to both Vladimir Putin and organized crime, Roman Tsepov was the target of five unsuccessful assassination attempts before he was finally poisoned in 2004 by a radioactive agent. Some Russian reports say he died from ingesting a large dose of a drug used to treat leukemia patients.

Source: Carl Court / Getty Images

Alexander Litvinenko
> Died:2006

A former Russian secret service officer, Litvinenko had publicly accused the Russian government of multiple acts of terrorism and was living in asylum in England. He fell ill in November of 2006 and died three weeks later, poisoned by radioactive polonium-210. In 2021, the European Court of Human Rights found that Russia was responsible for his death.

Source: FroggyFrogg / Getty Images

Garnett Spears
> Died:2014

A five-year-old boy whose mother was diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Garnett Spears died from brain swelling due to salt poisoning. His mother, who had been putting salt in his feeding tube since infancy, was convicted of his murder.

Source: Michel Porro / Getty Images News via Getty Images

Slobodan Praljak
> Died:2017

A retired general from the Croatian Army, Praljak was convicted of war crimes against the Bosnian Muslim population in a criminal tribunal. He announced in the courtroom that he rejected the guilty verdict, drank a bottle of cyanide, and died a few hours later.

Source: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images News via Getty Images

Dawn Sturgess
> Died:2018

After a Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in England (they survived), the Novichok nerve agent used in their attempted murder was found in a trash can by a man foraging for useful items. As it was in a perfume bottle, he gave it to his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, who sprayed it on her wrist. She fell ill within 15 minutes and later died at the hospital.

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