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Anthrax scientist – and top suspect – dead in apparent suicide

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Bruce Ivins, one of America's top bio-defense researchers, apparently committed suicide at his Maryland home shortly after being informed of his impending prosecution for the series of anthrax-tainted letters that killed five people and terrorized the country in 2001, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Ivins, a leading military anthrax researcher who worked for the past 18 years at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., had been told about the impending prosecution before reportedly overdosing on prescription drugs.

Ivins also helped the FBI analyze samples from the very same 2001 anthrax attacks for which The Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him, according to the paper.

One US official told the Associated Press that prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty.

For now, investigators are remaining quiet, reports the Washington Post.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr declined comment early this morning. Debbie Weierman, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington Field Office, said, "we are not making any public statement at this time or any public comment regarding the anthrax investigation."
Investigators were tightlipped in part because the investigation is ongoing, and also because of their experience with another onetime suspect in the notorious case.

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