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Doctor-Mother Charged With Killing Two Children; Poisoning Husband

December 15, 1995

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) _ The sprawling house of Drs. Debora Green and Michael Farrar sits charred and silent in this wealthy suburb, destroyed by a fire that laid bare what prosecutors say is a tale of murder, arson and a poisoning by exotic means.

Green, a 44-year-old cancer specialist, is in jail on $3 million bail. She is charged with arson and murder for allegedly setting the Oct. 24 blaze that killed two of her children, ages 6 and 13.

She is also charged with attempted murder. Prosecutors say she tried to kill another daughter, Kate Farrar, and poison her husband of 16 years with ricin, a powerful toxin derived from castor beans.

Kate, 10, escaped the fire and is now living with her father’s family. Farrar, a 40-year-old cardiologist who filed for divorce the day after the fire, is recuperating from brain surgery to drain an abscess that doctors say may have been caused by the poison. He still suffers from heart and other health problems doctors believe may also be related to the poisoning.

``Early on, we decided to investigate as a homicide, hoping it would be a fire of natural causes and everything would be fine. It didn’t turn out that way,″ Police Chief Charles Grover said.

Authorities have not given a motive for the crimes.

Green, who has been in jail since her arrest the day before Thanksgiving, maintains her innocence, said defense attorney Dennis Moore. Farrar has refused to be interviewed in the hospital.

At the suggestion of Green’s lawyer, investigators also looked into the Sept. 5 death of anesthesiologist Dr. David Hacker. He died just days after his wife, Margaret, filed for divorce. Mrs. Hacker and Farrar were close friends.

The pathologist who conducted Hacker’s autopsy concluded he had committed suicide.

Since the October fire, investigators have also begun looking at a blaze 16 months earlier at the Green-Farrar family’s previous home in another exclusive neighborhood across the state line in Kansas City, Mo.

Authorities did not determine the cause of that fire, but the family’s insurance company investigated and concluded it was accidental and paid an undisclosed claim.

Farrar had been separated from Green for several months at the time of the alleged poisoning.

On Aug. 7, he became ill with an ailment doctors could not diagnose. He almost died and was hospitalized twice more in August with the mysterious illness.

On Sept. 25, Farrar called police to his home to intervene in a family argument. Police reports said Green was acting bizarrely and was taken to a psychiatric unit at a hospital that night. Police wouldn’t elaborate on the bizarre behavior.

While at the house, police found castor beans. The seeds are the source of ricin, which in its purest form is among the deadliest of poisons.

Less than one month later, fire destroyed the home.

The fire and alleged poisoning have shaken the exclusive neighborhood that in the past has offered privacy to the professionals who live there.

Seven weeks after the blaze raged through the doctors’ home, the neighborhood still has a faint sooty smell. The curious drive and walk by the charred shell of a house, day and night.

Neighbors, collecting morning papers or hanging Christmas lights, regard strangers warily and hurry indoors.

``That environment has changed 180 degrees,″ the police chief said. ``They know they can’t be insulated, but it’s difficult sometimes in their minds to finally admit that things have changed and they may never be the same.″

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