"When someone removed thousands of frozen specimens from a cold-storage tank from a national laboratory in Menlo Park earlier this month, the vandalism left people puzzled: Who destroyed the protein samples by letting them melt, and why?
Now, federal authorities say they have answers: They're blaming a Palo Alto woman who had recently been fired from the lab and allegedly wrote mocking notes that made it seem like a man was responsible for the damage.
Silvya Oommachen, 32, who felt overworked and believed there was 'bad karma' between her and her supervisors, admitted to removing more than 4,000 crystal samples from cold storage at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, which is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy, authorities said.
Oommachen was charged Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco with willfully injuring and depredating U.S. property.
Authorities said she had caused an estimated $500,000 in damage.
Oommachen did not immediately return a call for comment today.
Oommachen stopped showing up for work June 17, FBI Special Agent Matthew Quick wrote in an affidavit. The lab fired her after officials repeatedly tried to contact her, without success.
From July 17 to 20, someone removed 42 cassettes, each containing 96 crystal samples, from three cryogenic containers and placed them on a lab table. The tops of each of the containers had Post-it notes on which was written, 'Performed by X Black,' a reference to a sex act and the date of July 18, the affidavit said.
'A hand-drawn smiley face was also on each of the Post-it notes,' Quick wrote."
Oommachen admitted to destroying the samples, believing that doing so would 'reverse some of the bad karma she was experiencing,'....
-- Henry K. Lee - who seems to have a good eye for this kind of thing - showing why NewAge and science don't mix, in The San Francisco Chronicle.