Crime

Suicide Solution?

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The wave of post-Sept. 11 anthrax attacks, as Jeff Taylor wrote in this space a month ago, is one of the murkiest and most unsatisfying criminal cases in recent U.S. history. Today comes news that teases satisfaction, while deepening the murk:

A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who for the last 18 years worked at the government's elite biodefense research laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Md., had been informed of his impending prosecution, said people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and the FBI investigation.

Ivins, whose name had not been disclosed publicly as a suspect in the case, played a central role in research to improve anthrax vaccines by preparing anthrax formulations used in experiments on animals.

Whole thing here. Color me skeptical of anyone who becomes a public* suspect only after their death, particularly in a case that has already produced a $5.82 million settlement for the last government scientist who was accused of the crime.

* I added the word "public" there, because it was silent in the original.