Suicide Latest Twist in Anthrax Saga

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CBNNews.com - A top U.S. biodefense researcher who helped investigate a series of deadly anthrax attacks in 2001 has died from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to arrest him, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Click the play button for comments from CBN News Terror Analyst, Erick Stakelbeck.

Bruce E. Ivins, 62, died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Md. reportedly from a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine. However, Maryland authorities have not yet officially declared the cause of death.

Ivins worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md. He had known about the impending prosecution.

The laboratory has been at the center of the FBI's investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.

Last month, the government exonerated the initial suspect, Steven Hatfill, another scientist at the Fort Detrick lab. The FBI had considered Hatfill a "person of interest" in the anthrax attacks.

Hatfill filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, claiming the department had violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case. The government paid Hatfill $5.82 million in a settlement.

The Times reported that federal investigators concluded Ivins was the culprit after FBI Director Robert Mueller changed leadership of the investigation in 2006.

The new investigators instructed agents to re-examine leads and reconsider potential suspects. In the meantime, investigators made progress in analyzing anthrax powder recovered from letters addressed to two U.S. senators, according to the report.

Besides the five deaths, 17 people were sickened by anthrax that was mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The victims included postal workers and others who came into contact with the anthrax.

Source: The Associated Press, Reuters, Los Angeles Times

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