Homicide detectives in Arizona have opened an investigation into the death of the 68-year-old Mesa City man who drank chloroquine phosphate to stave off the coronavirus, according to a report.
Gary Lenius died March 22 when his wife, Wanda, said she served him a mixture of soda and the chemical, typically used to clean fish tanks, after hearing President Donald Trump tout it as a potential cure for the deadly global pandemic, the Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday.
Lenius became sick and suffered “immediate effects” just 30 minutes after ingesting the chemical and was admitted to Banner Health hospital, where he died.
Wanda Lenius, 61, also became ill from the chloroquine phosphate but recovered.
But according to the Free Beacon, her husband’s friends grew suspicious of the incident, citing a rocky relationship with his wife.
“What bothers me about this is that Gary was a very intelligent man, a retired (mechanical) engineer who designed systems for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa, and I really can’t see the scenario where Gay would say, ‘Yes, please, I would love to drink some of that Koi fish tank cleaner,” one friend told the outlet. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Friends said Wanda Lenius typically berated her husband in public and was charged with assault in 2001 for allegedly hitting her husband with a birdhouse — although Lenius declined to press charges, the news outlet said.
In an interview with the Free Beacon, she said her decision to give her husband the lethal concoction was “really kind of a spur of the moment thing.”
She said both she and her husband took “one teaspoon and some soda,” which is at least four times the lethal limit, according to the outlet.
Mesa City police declined to comment on the investigation but told the paper that the probe was “normal protocol” for non-natural deaths and noted that the case has not been ruled a homicide “at this time.”
Sales of chloroquine phosphate skyrocketed last month after some studies found that a pharmaceutical version of the chemical could be a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence later voiced hope that hydroxychloroquine, which is used to treat malaria, could provide a viable off-label treatment for the virus, with Trump calling it “a game-changer in the battle against the bug.
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