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Ivins' friends scoff at accusation, but others are wary

Bruce Ivins was a juggler, a gardener, a church musician, a Red Cross volunteer – and a suspected multiple murderer, according to federal authorities.

Some people who knew him scoffed at the government's assertion that Ivins sent the anthrax letters that killed five people and sickened 17 in the fall of 2001. But court documents indicate the outwardly mild-mannered Ivins had a menacing side.

Documents show he recently received psychiatric treatment, and that he was ordered last week to stay away from Jean Duley, a social worker who counseled him. In her application for a protective order, Duley wrote that Ivins had stalked and threatened to kill her and had a long history of homicidal threats.

Ivins' brother Tom, who stressed that had not spoken to Bruce since 1985, was not shocked to hear that his brother was accused of making death threats, and he conceded the possibility that Bruce may have been the anthrax mailer.

“It makes sense, what the social worker said,” Tom Ivins said. “He considered himself like a god.”

Some who knew Ivins said the scrutiny of the investigation was too much for him to bear. But they also asserted his innocence.

Dr. Russell Byrne, a colleague who worked in the bacteriology division of the Fort Detrick research facility, said Ivins was “hounded” by FBI agents who raided his home twice, and he was hospitalized for depression earlier this month.

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