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Cathy Turpin will spend a year in prison for tampering with Alvin Turpin’s food and sending him to the hospital.
Friday, June 7, 2013
RADFORD – He made a ham sandwich out of ingredients from his fridge, and about an hour after eating it, Alvin Turpin said he became extremely ill.
Turpin’s former wife, whom he was married to for 32 years, pleaded guilty Friday in Radford Circuit Court to putting “itching powder” in Alvin Turpin’s mayonnaise and ham in September 2008, sending him to the hospital.
Cathy Turpin, 56, of Dublin was convicted of adulteration of food and sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after she serves one year. She’ll also be responsible for paying her ex-husband’s medical bill.
Radford Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Rehak said Cathy Turpin later told police that the two had been fighting and she was “very, very mad.” Alvin Turpin said after the hearing that he and Cathy Turpin have been divorced since March 2010 and were separated and living apart at the time of the incident.
Alvin Turpin said he came back to his Radford house one day in September 2008 and discovered that it had been broken into. Though nothing major had been stolen, he called police.
He later noticed that the wires to his refrigerator had been cut, but because his food was still cold, he said he was not concerned about making a sandwich with the ham and mayonnaise inside.
He said he became so ill after eating the sandwich that he went to the Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, where he was kept overnight in the intensive care unit, with IVs in both of his arms.
But the thought of someone deliberately poisoning him didn’t cross his mind, Turpin said.
“I didn’t think anything about it,” he said. “But then I came back from the hospital and found the emails.”
Turpin said that his sister, posing online as a man, had started communicating with Cathy Turpin on a dating site. It started as a joke, Alvin Turpin said, but Cathy Turpin began opening up to the online user, telling her sister-in-law — whom she believed was a potential romantic interest — that she had poisoned her husband.
Rehak said Friday that Cathy Turpin wrote in an email that she at first found it funny that Alvin Turpin had to go to the hospital but that if she had seriously hurt him, she would be “devastated.”
Rehak said that Cathy Turpin told police that she “wanted to make him sick and vomit out of spite.” No specifics about why she used the powder were disclosed during Friday’s hearing.
Cathy Turpin was originally charged with administering poison, but the charge was amended as part of a plea agreement. She also faced one count of malicious wounding and charges of burglary, forgery and credit card larceny, but those charges were dismissed Friday.
Alvin Turpin said he and Cathy Turpin had lived together in Dublin, but after separating, he moved back to his childhood home in Radford. It was there that he had to change his locks three times because of break-ins, he said.
Alvin Turpin said he called police each time, and he informed his lawyer. Cathy Turpin was using a Capitol One card in his name without his knowledge and spent more than $3,000, he said. But his lawyer at the time “did nothing,” Alvin Turpin said.
Police have said the investigation into the September 2008 break-in didn’t go anywhere because authorities were unclear about the marital status of the couple, which might have complicated a burglary charge. The police did not hear about the attempted poisoning accusation until this year, Radford police Lt. Andy Wilburn has said. The new piece of information led to the reopening of the case.
Alvin Turpin said that after the last break in, a police officer advised him to meet with Rehak, which led to Cathy Turpin’s indictments in March.
Cathy Turpin’s lawyer, Mark Hicks, said his client will pay $1,860 in restitution to Alvin Turpin if he can provide documentation of his hospital bills. Cathy Turpin will also be placed on two years of active supervised probation upon her release.
The maximum punishment for an adulteration of food charge is 20 years, and when asked by Judge Joey Showalter why there was a downward departure in Cathy Turpin’s sentence, Rehak said Turpin is older, has a medical condition and has never been convicted of a felony.
Alvin Turpin said he first met Cathy Turpin at a furniture company where they both worked. They married in 1977 and had two children together, who are now grown and have children of their own.
“They have nothing to do with her,” Alvin Turpin said of his children. He added that his newest grandchild will most likely never see Cathy Turpin in person.
“She should have gotten the 20 years,” Alvin Turpin said. “But there was a little justice.”
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