Vietnam woman faces murder charges after poisoning three with 'heartbreak grass'

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Police in the northeastern province of Ha Giang on Friday pressed murder charges against a woman who allegedly fatally poisoned her husband and his two friends with a toxic shrub known as "heartbreak grass," the official Vietnam News Agency reported.


Hoang Thi Tien, a 31-year-old Tay ethnic woman in Hoang Su Phi District, was charged with killing Hoang Van Thuyen, her 36-year-old husband, and his friends Giang Seo Pao, 40, and Giang Seo De, 17. All three men belonged to the Tay ethnic community as well.


On December 29, 2011, Thuyen invited Pao and De to his house to drink.


About an hour after drinking the herbal wine, all three men died. Autopsies showed they were poisoned.


Police investigated and arrested Tien. She then confessed she'd had extramarital affair with a villager because Thuyen usually yelled and beat her and their children after he got drunk.


In mid November 2011, Tien went into the forest and took a branch of the plant Gelsemium elegans - a toxic plant well known among hilltribes as an effective means of  committing suicide - to soak in wine.


She then poured the toxic wine into a herbal wine bottle that her husband usually drank from.


Nicknamed "heartbreak grass," Gelsemium elegans (called cay la ngon in Vietnamese) is twining climber native to India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, northern Myanmar, Taiwan, northern Thailand, Vietnam and a number of Chinese provinces.


It is found in scrubby forests and thickets usually at an elevation of 200-2000 meters.


On December 23, 2011, Chinese billionaire Long Liyuan, 49, was killed when cat-stew that he was eating was allegedly poisoned with Gelsemium elegans.

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