Friday, August 01, 2008

Fwd: Re: [v911t] 2-3 Suicides -this week/Anthrax suspect, scientist, kills self........

More house-keeping?....HWS

Anthrax suspect, scientist, kills self as FBI closes in

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Prosecutors likely would have sought the
death penalty against a researcher who killed himself after learning
he was going to be charged in the 2001 anthrax killings, two sources
told CNN on Friday.

Former U.S. Army researcher Bruce Ivins was found unconscious
in his Frederick, Maryland, home on Sunday.

1 of 3

Three sources familiar with the investigation said the case
soon will be closed because a threat no longer exists. No information
has been made public about what charges were planned.

Authorities had been investigating Bruce Ivins, 62, a former
researcher at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious
Diseases, a bioweapons laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland,
according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity
because the investigation is still officially open. Ivins had been
working at Fort Detrick trying to develop a vaccine against the
deadly anthrax toxin.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on
Friday that authorities were looking at whether Ivins released
anthrax as a way to test his vaccine.

A spokesman for Maryland's medical examiner told CNN Friday the
official cause of Ivins' death on Tuesday was suicide. One of CNN's
sources said Ivins knew he was about to be charged.

The medical examiner's spokesman said he could not confirm a
report in the Los Angeles Times that Ivins had taken Tylenol mixed
with codeine. The Times first reported Ivins' death on its Web site
early Friday. Watch what's known so far about case against Ivins »

Ivins' attorney said Friday his client was innocent of the
anthrax deaths, and said he is disappointed that he "will not have
the opportunity to defend his good name."

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In a written statement, attorney Paul Kemp said his firm had
represented Ivins for more than a year.

"The relentless pressure of accusation and innuendo takes its
toll in different ways on different people, as has already been seen
in this investigation. In Dr. Ivins' case, it led to his untimely
death. We ask that the media respect the privacy of his family, and
allow them to grieve."

The anthrax mailings, which killed five people, shook the
nation just weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

There have been no arrests in the case, which started after
someone sent letters laced with spores of deadly anthrax to
congressional offices and several news organizations. Among those who
died were two postal workers. Two contaminated letters were sent to
senators, exposing 30 staffers. Read more on the health risks of

A spokesman for the Frederick County, Maryland, Fire and Rescue
Service told CNN that someone called the 911 center at 1:08 a.m.
Sunday to report an unconscious person at a home at 622 Military

Frederick Police Capt. Kevin Grubb said Ivins was found
unresponsive on the floor of a bathroom. He was taken to Frederick
Memorial Hospital. Ivins' modest two-story home is located across
from Fort Detrick.

Court documents show that a judge issued a restraining order
against Ivins on July 24, days before his suicide.

A woman sought the order against "Dr. Bruce Edward Ivins," whom
she accused of making threats of violence, harassment and stalking in
the previous 30 days.

In the order, Ivins is told not to contact the woman -- whom
CNN is not identifying -- by telephone or other means, and to stay
away from her place of employment.

A hearing on the order had been scheduled for Thursday, and
according to court documents, she had been subpoenaed to testify
before a federal grand jury in Washington on Friday.

John Ezzell, former chief of special pathogens at Fort Detrick,
said he was involved in hiring Ivins, who worked at the facility for
years before retiring in 2006.

He declined to describe Ivins' exact job responsibilities, but
said, "He was an interesting character."

Ezzell said Ivins was the one who examined an anthrax-laced
letter that was sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, in November
2001. The envelope, which was opened in the lab, contained 23,000
anthrax spores and was postmarked October 9 in Trenton, New Jersey.

Ivins' brother, Tom, said the FBI questioned him about his
brother about a year and a half ago. Investigators "asked you about
your personal life, how you got along with your brothers when you
grew up," he said. Watch as Tom Ivins talks about his brother »

"They said they were investigating him when they talked to me,"
said Tom Ivins, who said he was not close to his brother and never
spoke to him about the anthrax investigation.

"I stay away from him," he said.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment about Ivins on Friday. A
Justice Department spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Police believe the anthrax was made at Fort Detrick, one of
CNN's sources said.

Fort Detrick issued a statement mourning the death of Ivins,
who worked at the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases
for more than 35 years as a civilian microbiologist.

"In addition to his long and faithful government service, Bruce
contributed to our community as a Red Cross volunteer with the
Frederick County chapter. We will miss him very much," the statement

Ivins had been questioned previously by the FBI, as had many
scientists assisting the FBI, the source said.

Investigators believed the culprit might be a scientist because
of the amount of knowledge needed to process the anthrax.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told CNN in July that "there have
been breakthroughs" in the investigation and he was confident it
would be resolved. Watch Mueller discuss "breakthroughs" in anthrax
case »

"We've made great progress in the investigation and it's in no
way dormant," Mueller said. "I'm confident in the course of the
investigation, I'm confident of the steps that have been taken in the
course of the investigation, and I'm confident that it will be

Early in the investigation, Attorney General John Ashcroft
publicly identified a "person of interest" in the anthrax case --
Steven Hatfill, a former civilian researcher on anthrax.

Hatfill and Ivins both worked at the bioweapons lab at Fort

Hatfill was not charged and strongly denied involvement. He
sued the Justice Department, claiming his privacy rights were
violated when his name was leaked to the media in connection with the
ongoing federal investigation into the biological attacks. Watch
Hatfill deny involvement in anthrax case »

The Justice Department reached a settlement with Hatfill in
June. He is to receive a one-time payment of $2.8 million and
$150,000 a year for life.

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CNN's Kevin Bohn, Kelli Arena and Mike Ahlers contributed to
this report.

All About Anthrax • Federal Bureau of Investigation • Steven

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