Dead man’s girlfriend sentenced in Norfolk for having illegal poison

Debbie Siers-Hill (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office)
Debbie Siers-Hill (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office)

A woman who pleaded guilty to possessing the poison ricin around the time of her boyfriend’s mysterious death was sentenced Tuesday to nearly three years in prison.

Debbie Siers-Hill, 63, was sentenced in a federal court in Norfolk after pleading guilty last year.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says the cause and manner of death of 67-year-old Frederick Brooks remains “undetermined.”

No one has been charged with his death and Siers-Hill has denied allegations that she poisoned her boyfriend.

According to court documents, Virginia Beach Police officers executing a search warrant in March 2016 found a number of chemicals, packages of castor beans, and multiple firearms, one with an “obliterated serial number,” in a storage unit rented by Siers-Hill, 63, of Summerville, who was then living in Virginia Beach.

Federal prosecutors said tests of the chemicals showed a syringe and a double-wrapped container found in the storage unit held ricin, a toxin derived from castor beans with no known antidote.

Federal prosecutors say they are troubled that Siers-Hill manufactured ricin and researched death by caffeine around the time Brooks died.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.