Anthrax Case Scientist Commits Suicide

Microbiologist took drug overdose as investigators closed in
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2008 4:41 AM CDT
A hazardous materials unit worker is hosed down on Capitol Hill in this 2001 file photo at a time when workers continued to inspect buildings and offices for anthrax contamination.    (AP Photo/Ron Thomas, FILE)
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(Newser) – A government scientist in Maryland about to be charged in the 2001 anthrax attacks has apparently committed suicide, the Los Angeles Times reports. Microbiologist Bruce Ivins was questioned after the attacks for failing to report anthrax contamination at his workplace, but the investigation soon switched focus. Colleagues say Ivins became anxious after the authorities paid a settlement in June to another government scientist who had earlier been named as a prime suspect in the attacks that killed five people.

Ivins, who overdosed on prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine, played an important role in the government's investigation. His brother said he was not surprised by events. "He buckled under the pressure from the federal government," he said, adding that agents had quizzed him about his sibling's personality. "I was questioned by the feds, and I sung like a canary," he said. "He had in his mind that he was omnipotent."