A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks died in Maryland from an apparent suicide as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him, reports the Los Angeles Times. Bruce 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.
Ivins, whose name had not been disclosed publicly as a suspect in the case, played a central role in research to improve anthrax vaccines by preparing anthrax formulations used in experiments on animals. He died Tuesday after ingesting a massive dose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine. The anthrax mailings killed five people, crippled national mail service, shut down a Senate office building, and spread fear of further terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. In June, the government agreed to pay $5.82 million to former government scientist Steven Hatfill, who was long targeted as the FBI’s chief suspect despite a lack of evidence he had possessed anthrax.