News

Sorority fixation enters anthrax case

His decades-long obsession with a college sorority may link a former Army biowarfare scientist to four anthrax-laced letters dropped off at a New Jersey mailbox in 2001, authorities said Monday in the latest twist of one of the most bizarre unsolved crimes in FBI history.

A number of U.S. officials told The Associated Press that former Army scientist Bruce Ivins was long obsessed with the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, going back as far as his college days at the University of Cincinnati.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The bizarre link to the sorority may indirectly explain one of the biggest mysteries in the case: why the anthrax was mailed from Princeton, N.J., 195 miles from the Army biological weapons lab the anthrax is believed to have been smuggled out of.

An adviser to the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter at Princeton University confirmed she was interviewed by the FBI in connection with the case.

U.S. officials said e-mails or other documents detail Ivins' long-standing fixation on the sorority. His former therapist has said Ivins plotted revenge against those who have slighted him, particularly women. There is nothing to indicate, however, that he was focused on any one sorority member or other Princeton student, the officials said.

Despite the connection between Ivins and the sorority, authorities acknowledge they cannot place the scientist in Princeton the day the anthrax was mailed. That remains a hole in the government's case. Had Ivins not killed himself last week, authorities would have argued he could have made the seven-hour round trip to Princeton after work.

Ivins' attorney, Paul Kemp, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Monday, but has asserted his client's innocence and said he would have been vindicated in court. Five people died and 17 others were sickened by the anthrax plot, which was launched on the heels of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

  Comments