The Largest Biological Attack In American History Occurred At Oregon Salad Bars
If we asked you to picture a biological weapons attack in America, you might think of the 2001 anthrax attacks, or the nefarious machinations of the Umbrella Corporation, if history isn't your strong suit. But the biggest act of bio-terror in American history occurred at a series of salad bars -- which, given how many people sneeze on them, are already a form of biological warfare.
Let's go back to 1984. Radio stations voluntarily played Huey Lewis and the News, everyone was making tedious George Orwell jokes, and the Rajneesh movement was starting to commit the kind of crimes that would later earn them that Netflix series. Founded by Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the Rajneeshees participated in an intensive syncretic spiritual movement that also made giant piles of money. It was like Scientology, but with boning instead of, uh, getting trapped on a cruise ship filled with measles? (Man, Scientology news isn't what it was.)
They were a complicated group, but for this story, all you need to know is that they fled growing tensions in India for Oregon, where they built a communal farming colony modestly named Rajneeshpuram. Over 7,000 people lived in what was essentially a small town, complete with restaurants and buses. But residents of the neighboring towns didn't like that they had their own militia that wandered around with submachine guns. The Rajneeshees would also move into tiny communities, overwhelm the voting rolls, and pass laws that served their own purposes. Like when they voted to rename the town of Antelope as Rajneesh.
Samvado Gunnar KossatzAnd we all know that 1980s small-towners just love this kind of thing.
The good people of Oregon prefer to be the only folks in the area wielding guns for their inevitable fight against the government, and so conflict ensued. And when the county denied the Rajneeshees some construction permits, the fighting got dirty. First, 2,000 homeless people were bused in to help vote Rajneeshees into key government positions, but that failed because, contrary to what Fox News might tell you, you can't simply pack a voting booth with random hobos. Naturally, the next step was terrorism.
They targeted salad bars in The Dalles, the relatively large county seat, which couldn't be overwhelmed with raw numbers like Antelope. They tainted salad dressing, salsa, water, and produce with a salmonella-contaminated slurry that sickened 751 people and hospitalized 45. The goal was to put opposing voters out of commission, but somehow the plan backfired when suspicious locals instead turned out in force against their candidates. Luckily, they weren't able to pull off their original plan of using goddamn typhoid.
When the government raided Rajneeshpuram, they discovered a chemical warfare lab, a massive wire-tapping operation, and oh yeah, a plot to assassinate the U.S. Attorney for Oregon, because what the Rajneeshees lacked in competence, they made up for in persistence. That raid mostly ended the movement, and Rajneesh himself died in 1990, although there are still some far less murderous Rajneeshees out there today running generic meditation movements. Oh, and the mastermind of these plots, Ma Anand Sheela, is now out of jail, so maybe check to see if she's visited your area lately before you order that Cobb salad.
A Couple Claimed The Adopted Daughter They Abandoned Was Actually A 22-Year-Old Psychopath
Until mid-2019, Michael and Kristine Barnett were best known as autism advocates. They had been told that their son Jake would likely be unable to speak or even tie his own shoes, but by 12, he was taking college math classes and contributing to academic journals. In the background of all the feel-good news stories that followed, you can sometimes see Jake's adopted sister. She went unmentioned in all those 2011 and 2012 profiles, but she became huge news when her parents were charged with abandoning her in a rented room in 2013. But what really separates this story from humdrum, everyday cases of sad child abuse is Kristine's insistence that they ditched her because she was actually 22 years old and pure evil.