Biochemist's Suicide Linked to 2001 Anthrax Scare
Bruce E. Ivins, a 62-year-old top government biochemist who assisted the FBI is analyzing the disease attacks, was found dead from an apparent overdose after apparently learning the Justice Department was due to file criminal charges against him, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Ivins, whose name authorities previously kept anonymous (despite his status as a suspect), reportedly died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland from a massive dose of prescription medicines.
Henry Heine, a scientist who worked with Ivins on inhalation anthrax research at the government's bio-defence labs in Fort Detrick, Md., said he and fellow researchers have testified before a federal grand jury that for more than a year has probed the anthrax mailings.
Five people succumbed to the disease after handling tainted letters during what was the deadliest bio-terrorism attack in American history.
Last week, FBI director Robert Mueller told CNN that the bureau had made "breakthroughs" in the long unresolved case.
In addition to claiming lives, the anthrax mailings made 17 people ill, crippled national postage service, shut down a Senate office building and fueled widespread fear of further terrorist attacks around the county.
Among those targeted at the time were news media outlets, with then-NBC-anchor Tom Brokaw the recipient of one of the allegedly contaminated envelopes.