FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 19 -- A University of Texas student was in custody Wednesday on suspicion of killing her father 20 months ago by poisoning him with a substance she got from a high school chemistry class. Marie Robards, 18, is accused of putting barium in a helping of beans served with a Mexican dinner eaten by her 38-year-old father, Steven Robards, shortly before he died Feb. 18, 1993.
The student was arrested after Tarrant County Medical Examiner Dr. Nazim Peerwani conducted additional toxicology tests and ruled that Robards died of acute barium intoxication. The medical examiner first ruled that Robards died of natural causes. Police spokeswoman Lt. Pat Kneblick said Robards told a friend at Mansfield High School that she had killed her father. 'Eventually the friend told a counselor who told somebody at the police department,' Kneblick said. The only possible motive is that the girl was unhappy living with her father and wanted to live with her mother after her parents were divorced, Kneblick said. Homicide Sgt. Joe Wallace said Robards got the barium, which is a metallic element used to make rat poison, bleach and other substances, from her high school chemistry class and put it in her father's food. Peerwani would not discuss the case, but said his office keeps blood samples for up to five years after an autopsy is performed. Routine blood screening does not detect most poisons, he said.