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Police Investigate Poisoning Death Of Houghton Woman

The Houghton Police Department says they are continuing their investigation of a woman poisoned to death in December 2015.

31-year-old Janel Rene Sturzl of Houghton reportedly became ill in October 2015 and sought treatment for her unknown illness at the time.

In late November, she was transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where it was discovered she had been poisoned with lethal levels of thallium.

Sturzl died of Thallium poisoning on December 22nd.

Thallium is a heavy metal substance which was formerly used in agricultural pest control, among other uses.

It is odorless, colorless and tasteless.  Due to misuse, the substance was banned for commercial use in the 1960’s. Thallium poisoning cases reported in the United States are extremely rare.

Aside from the current investigation in Houghton, investigators were recently made aware of an August 2016 thallium poisoning of a Battle Creek, Michigan man. At this time, authorities say these incidents appear to be unrelated.

Sturzl was a former Minnesota resident who relocated to Michigan with her family several years ago.

She married Anthony E. Heathcoat in July of 2015. She is a former employee of the Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton and was also actively involved in the Society of Creative Anachronism.

The Houghton Police Department, who are being assisted by the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, Michigan State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation, is actively investigating all leads.

If anyone has any information, whether they believe the information is important or not, they are asked to contact the Houghton Police Department at (906) 487-5912.

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