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Wednesday, June 26, 2002


Lynn and Tom MIlam just wanted to build a quiet log cabin retreat up in the mountains near Hernando Missisippi, they couldn't possibly have imagined what was coming next.

It took six hospitalizations and a number of misdiagnoses before Lynn Milam learned what was causing the vomiting and diarrhea that almost killed her in 1999. The arsenic levels in her body, her doctor said, were about 100 times what they should have been.

Ms. Milam was relieved to have a diagnosis, however terrifying. That relief vanished when the police arrived. "They said someone was trying to kill me, and they were almost 100 percent sure it was Tom," her husband, Ms. Milam said.

But she refused to believe it. "I know the man," she said. "If he were going to kill me, he'd just shoot me."

As it turns out what was really causing the problem was the mixture of arsenic based compounds contained in the chemicals used to treat the wood for the cabin. So now the legal problem is one for the products manufacturers. But this didn't stop thelocal police from accusing Lynn's husband of trying to kill her, from advising Lynn that she leave her husband, and the district attorney from trying to persuade a grand jury that it was a case of attempted murder. But perhaps the most striking thing of all is the wife's suggestion that she really does know her husband best, after all.

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