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Oleander Poisoning Kills 2 Kids

July 25, 2000 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Two adopted Russian boys died from eating poisonous oleander leaves in a neighbor’s hedge.

Alexei Wiltsey, 2, and his 3-year-old brother, Peter, were found dead in their cribs at their El Segundo home May 4. Laboratory tests confirmed Tuesday they died of oleander toxicity, coroner’s office spokesman Scott Carrier said. The chemical oleandrian in the popular garden plant causes the heart to stop beating.

The coroner contracted with an outside laboratory to confirm the cause of death.

The boys’ mother, Shirley Wiltsey, said she found the boys chewing oleander leaves a few days before they died and noticed they had picked some again the night of their deaths.

Shirley and husband Tom adopted the boys last August from an orphanage in Siberia.