FRANKFURT: German police announced Saturday the arrest of a 53-year-old man “strongly suspected” of poisoning baby food and threatening to contaminate other products in stores nationwide and across Europe.
The man was detained by officers near Tubingen, south of Stuttgart, following information received from the public, police and prosecutors said in a joint statement.
At a press conference, they said that the man had refused to shed light on his motives but that evidence implicating him was discovered at his home. It also appears that he acted alone.
Local deputy chief of police Uwe Stuermer described the man as “eccentric” and mentally disturbed.
On Thursday police alerted the public to the risk of food being poisoned, saying a blackmailer was demanding millions of euros in cash.
Authorities released surveillance footage of the suspect, whom they earlier described as aged 55, wearing glasses and a white cap, which ultimately led to the arrest.
To press the demand, the blackmailer had poisoned five baby food products and last week alerted police to the store they were placed in, in the southern city of Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance.
The food — which had been laced with ethylene glycol, a chemical found in anti-freeze and brake fluid — was found and removed.
But it prompted the nationwide appeal for information on the suspect and a warning about the potential of other contaminated food, which authorities repeated Saturday.
Through the video surveillance of the stores where the baby jars were identified, police were able to obtain images clearly showing the face of the 55-year-old man, who has not been named.