Friday, August 01, 2008

A Killer Who Took the Easy Way Out or An Innocent Man Driven to Suicide?

American anthrax scientist, Dr. Bruce E. Ivins, has died at his own hand. According to the Washington Post, Ivins' death comes just as a federal grand jury was about to indict the scientist for murder in the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and terrorized the country.

"Prosecutors were considering whether to seek the death penalty against Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked at an elite U.S. Army bioweapons laboratory in Fort Detrick. Ivins died Tuesday in an apparent suicide.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital, according to an obituary published in the Frederick News-Post. The Los Angeles Times first reported in today's editions that a federal grand jury in Washington had been gathering testimony about Ivins's alleged involvement in the attacks, and that Ivins had been notified that criminal charges were looming.

Fort Detrick, located 50 miles north of Washington, has been a focus of Justice Department and FBI investigators for nearly six years, since anthrax-laced letters arrived at media organizations and Senate offices shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The anthrax mailings killed five people, including two postal workers at the Brentwood Road facility in the District, and sickened 17 others, spreading fear on Capitol Hill and across the country only weeks after hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

For the past several months, the grand jury had been hearing testimony from scientists who worked alongside Ivins at Fort Detrick, performing research on inhaled anthrax spores, according to the Times report. While the Times report said Ivins worked in the elite biodefense lab since 1990, the News-Post obituary said he had been a scientist at Fort Detrick for 36 years.

The mailings, sent to then-Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), network television offices in New York and the company that owns the National Enquirer, gripped the nation and disrupted correspondence. In addition to the two D.C. postal workers, a Florida photographer, a New York hospital worker and an elderly Connecticut woman died after being exposed to the powder. "

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