“It was diabolical, it was evil:” The shocking story of a friend-turned-suspect in Netflix’s ‘Worst Roommate Ever’

(L-R) Janie and Rachel – ‘The Worst Roommate Ever’ season 2 episode 1 (Courtesy of Netflix)
(L-R) Janie and Rachel – ‘The Worst Roommate Ever’ season 2 episode 1 (Courtesy of Netflix)

Janie Lynn Ridd and her roommate Rachel had been best friends for 25 years.

The two women were inseparable, even moving in together after meeting in 1995 and co-parenting Rachel’s son, who has autism and is conversationally nonverbal.

But after Rachel became dangerously ill numerous times without any explanation, forcing her to give up her job as a paramedic, she discovered her best friend had been trying to poison her with a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“I really have a hard time believing that the person I’ve known for 25 years, my best friend and roommate, could do what she did,” Rachel, identified only by her first name, said.

“But it was diabolical, it was evil. It was plotted and planned so perfectly.”

The two women’s story has been documented in the first episode of Season 2 of “Worst Roommate Ever” on Netflix.

In the episode, titled “My BFF Tried to Kill Me,” Rachel describes meeting Janie in 1995 when she was 22 and Janie was 26.

Rachel had just gone through a divorce and moved back into her parent’s home when she started to hang out socially with Janie. Meanwhile, Janie was living in an apartment that had been broken into, and said she did not want to live alone.

The two women’s circumstances seemed to intertwine perfectly, so they decided to move in together.

Janie Lynn Ridd and Rachel were best friends for 25 years after meeting in 1995 (Netflix)
Janie Lynn Ridd and Rachel were best friends for 25 years after meeting in 1995 (Netflix)

At first, Rachel said she felt “very safe” living with her friend and roommate. However, things began to turn sour when Rachel started making new friends and dating, and Janie began displaying controlling and jealous behavior.

Janie’s behaviour began to escalate several years later in 2010, Rachel said, when Rachel herniated a disc and was no longer able to work. She discovered she was pregnant at the same time, which, she claimed, increased Janie’s grip over her.

“For the first time in our friendship, Janie had 100 per cent control over me because I didn’t have a job, I was pregnant, I had a back injury, and I was in so much pain, I needed her,” Rachel said in the docuseries.

Rachel gave birth to her son, Ryder, in 2010. Around the same time, Rachel decided to take out a life insurance policy on herself and her roommate, with the women being each other’s beneficiaries.

Janie was also listed as the legal custodian of Ryder in Rachel’s will. Friends described Janie as becoming a second mother to help care for Ryder. When Rachel herniated a disc again in 2015, and doctors told her she would need surgery to prevent becoming permanently disabled, Janie took Ryder under her wing, enrolling herself and the child into a program that saw her paid for looking after Ryder, which became “a significant part” of Rachel’s income.

But Rachel told a different story. She said Janie’s alleged obsession with Ryder led her to abuse her capacity as the mother and son’s caretaker.

She alleged Janie let people at Ryder’s school believe she was his parent. This led to fights between the two best friends, and on June 20, 2018, Rachel received a letter announcing that Janie was suing her for custody of Ryder. Rachel called the authorities, who informed her that Janie had filed a protective order. Ryder was returned to Rachel’s custody ten days later after a Child Protective Services investigation.

Following the custody incident, the women moved back in together. But it didn’t end there.

As Rachel recovered from her neck surgery, Janie helped to care for her, including tending to her post-surgery incisions.

Rachel described how Janie would rub her neck, ultimately resulting in more pain.

A “suspicious MRSA infection” was later discovered on the wound, according to an indictment obtained by Today.com. MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that can be resistant to several antibiotics, and Rachel ended up in hospital.

Rachel, pictured in a scene from Netflix's
Rachel, pictured in a scene from Netflix's "Worst Roommate Ever." (Netflix)

Rachel then had two more mysterious health scares. The first occuring in June 2019 when Rachel said she had two separate episodes of dangerous blood sugar levels which required her to be hospitalized, though she was not diabetic and did not take insulin. Rachel recalled a conversation between her and Janie that took place while they were watching a true crime documentary, in which Janie told her that the best way to kill someone and get away with it would be to inject the victim with insulin.

Rachel had another surgery in October 2019, and “inexplicably developed three golf-ball sized infections on the wound.” One of the infections was tested and was determined to contain E. coli, a type of bacteria.

At the time, Rachel’s surgeon told investigators that the E. coli infection “did not come as a result of surgery and must have been injected.”

Meanwhile, the FBI was investigating someone attempting to purchase a lethal bacteria known as Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (VRSA) on the Dark Web, a trail that eventually led them straight to Janie.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, VRSA is a strain of antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria that can cause infections that look like everything from skin conditions to severe wound infections, and can result in death.

From October to December 2019, Janie communicated with the dark web vendor and told them that she was a biology teacher who needed VRSA cultures for a school science experiment, according to the indictment.

When the vendor said VRSA could be obtained through more legitimate sources for scientific research, Janie offered to pay for overnight shipping to receive the cultures faster, the indictment added, and paid for $300 worth of the bacteria in Bitcoin.

According to the Netflix documentary, she also used the dark web to purchase sedatives such as ketamine, Xanax, and insulin injector pens.

Janie was eventually caught when investigators intercepted Janie’s virus order and replaced it with a dummy package. They then staked out the UPS store where she had ordered the substance.

On their second day of surveillance, they saw an individual matching Janie’s description enter the store and collect the package. After tailing her to Salt Lake, they apprehended her at her place of work and questioned her about her plans for the bacteria.

Although she initially denied any harmful intent, claiming instead that the package contained coffee beans, she finally admitted purchasing a “biological” from the dark web to make beer.

She then told investigators that she ordered a form of staph for experimental purposes. During her FBI interview, Janie told agents it had never crossed her mind to use the biological agent on Rachel.

“No, and I wouldn’t even know how to do that,” Janie said, according to a tape of the interview aired during the show. “No, she’s my best friend and whether we argue or not, she’s been my best friend for 25 years and I love her like a sister.”

Authorities later found an expended insulin injector pen with Rachel’s DNA on the outside of the pen at Janie’s home, along with a copy of her living will that had gone missing from the safe.

Janie was arrested and charged with three felonies: aggravated intentional abuse of a disabled or elder adult, attempted intentional abuse of a disabled or elder adult, and attempted possession of a weapon of mass destruction, according to court documents.

Janie pleaded guilty to attempted intentional abuse of a disabled or elder adult and attempted possession of a weapon of mass destruction on Aug. 25, 2020. She was sentenced to between one to twenty years in prison.

Rachel now suspects that Janie began with Xanax before progressing to stronger substances like Ketamine. She also believes she was injected with E.Coli, she said in the Netflix show.

“She found joy in tormenting me,” Rachel said. “I don’t think I was human to her.”

Janie, now 55, was granted parole and released in January 2022 after serving 25 months in prison, according to the documentary. She could not be reached for contact by The Independent.

In an undated recording of a phone call from the Salt Lake County Jail played during the show, Janie was heard saying: “I know what’s going to happen. I’m going to end up out of here. I’m going to find a way to get him away from her. He needs to come back to me now.”