Thursday, Aug 14, 2008
Federal investigators probing the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks recovered samples of human hair from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., but the strands did not match the lead suspect in the case, according to sources briefed on the probe.
FBI agents and U.S. Postal Service inspectors analyzed the data in an effort to place Fort Detrick, Md., scientist Bruce E. Ivins at the mailbox from which bacteria-laden letters were sent to Senate offices and media organizations, the sources said.
The hair sample is one of many pieces of evidence over which researchers continue to puzzle in the case, which ended after Ivins committed suicide July 29 as prosecutors prepared to seek his indictment.
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Authorities released sworn statements and search warrants last week at a news conference in which they asserted that Ivins was their sole suspect. But the materials have not dampened speculation about the merits of the investigative findings and the government’s aggressive pursuit of Ivins, a 62-year-old anthrax vaccine researcher. Conspiracy theories have flourished since the 2001 attacks, which killed five people and sickened 17 others.
Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it will call FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to appear at an oversight hearing Sept. 17, when he is likely to be asked about the strength of the government’s case against Ivins. A spokeswoman for Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), a vocal FBI critic, said he would demand more information about how authorities narrowed their search.
This article was posted: Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 1:05 pm