Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Love a Mystery

Like many others, I'm fascinated by cases that appear to be unsolvable: The Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Jon Benet Ramsey, and of course The Boy in the Box.

One of the most fascinating cases, though, occurred seven years ago shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, when five people died and seventeen were injured from being exposed to anthrax. People were panicked. Was this another terroristic attack? Although it appeared that those in the media and politicians were the targets, no one really believed they were safe. At the police department, we had calls daily from residents who received what they thought was suspicious mail. The department had to quickly develop a protocol for handling items that residents turned over to them. None of the mail turned out to be hazardous, but it was still a trying time for those involved.

Now that everyone has become complacent again and mostly forgotten about the Amerithrax case, there has been a break in the case. Just as the FBI was preparing to charge 62 year old Army scientist Bruce Ivins with murder, he committed suicide by taking an overdose of Tylenol with codeine.

Using new, state of the art scientific testing, authorities were able to determine that the anthrax strain used in the attacks was very rare and narrowed it down to a sample that Ivins controlled. If this testing had been available earlier, the case would have been solved years ago.

We now know who did it, but with Ivins' death, we may never know why--or how.

How was he able to take his anthrax sample and make a powdered form without any of his co-workers knowing about it? Why were the media and former senator Tom Daschle targeted? How and why did he go to New Jersey to mail the anthrax-laced letters? Was his motive to promote his recently patented anthrax vaccine? Or was he a just a "revenge killer" as his therapist Jean Duley stated?

Hopefully, with US District Judge Royce Lamberth unsealing certain documents we may get a few answers. These documents are now posted on the website of the Department of Justice if anyone wants to take a look.

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