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Death of Pastor's Wife Tied to Poison

May 13, 1999|TINA DIRMANN

A Ventura pastor's wife, whose mysterious death in September prompted a police investigation, died after ingesting bug poison, authorities said Wednesday.

But authorities are still trying to determine whether Sharon Herrington, 58, swallowed the pesticide voluntarily or if someone had slipped it to her, Sgt. Bob Anderson said.

Police are also trying to determine how Herrington obtained the substance known as carbofuran--a commercial grade pesticide mainly used for agriculture purposes and not sold over the counter.

"Access to that substance is extremely restricted," Anderson said. "It's a very potent, noncommercial pesticide. Even a very small amount could be lethal."

Anderson said the pesticide is available in California, but is more accessible in agricultural states such as Louisiana.

Authorities said the Herringtons have relatives in Louisiana, and that investigators have traveled there to check if the couple could have purchased carbofuran during an August visit.

So far, however, investigators have been unable to determine the source of the substance, Anderson said.

Authorities have not yet questioned Herrington's husband, retired minister Robert Herrington of Ventura Missionary Church, about the substance, Anderson said.

Sharon Herrington died Sept. 2.

Authorities said Herrington had just returned home from a trip to Wyoming to visit her newborn grandchild.

Shortly after her husband picked her up at Los Angeles International Airport, Herrington appeared to fall asleep, Robert Herrington told his attorney, Frances Diaz.

Robert Herrington rushed his wife to Ventura County Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, Diaz said.

Although doctors struggled to find a cause of death, officials believed the woman died of natural causes, police said.

It was about two months later when family members approached authorities with their suspicion that Herrington may have been killed.

Relatives told police the couple, married more than four decades, were having marital difficulties.

Diaz said Robert Herrington had an affair with a church secretary, and in October, a month after his wife's death, Herrington, having retired from the church, moved to La Quinta and bought a home with the secretary.

Diaz said relatives angry over the relationship are the ones who have made the accusations that Sharon Herrington had been killed.

Police have not named a suspect in the case and no arrests have been made.

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