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.
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Ivins, the son of a Princeton-educated pharmacist, was born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio, and received undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a doctorate in microbiology, from the University of Cincinnati.
The eldest of his two brothers, Thomas Ivins, said he was not surprised by the events that have unfolded.
“He buckled under the pressure from the federal government,” Thomas Ivins said, adding that FBI agents came to Ohio last year to question him about his brother.
“I was questioned by the feds, and I sung like a canary” about Bruce Ivins’ personality and tendencies, Thomas Ivins said.
“He had in his mind that he was omnipotent.”
Ivins’ widow declined to be interviewed when reached Thursday at her home in Frederick. The couple raised twins, now 24.
The family’s home is 198 miles — about a 3 1/2 -hour drive — from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., where anthrax spores were found by investigators.
All of the recovered anthrax letters were postmarked in that vicinity.