WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior U.S. government scientist who helped investigate a series of deadly anthrax attacks in 2001 has died from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to charge him with carrying out the attacks, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday. The newspaper identified the man as Bruce Ivins, 62, and said he had worked for the last 18 years at government biodefence research laboratories in Maryland. It quoted people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and the FBI investigation.
It said Ivins had been informed of his impending prosecution shortly before his death on Tuesday after swallowing a massive dose of pain killers.
The anthrax was sent through the mail to media organizations and politicians shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The attacks killed five people, crippled national mail service, shut down a Senate office building and spread fear of further terrorism.Viewed as a skilled microbiologist, Ivins helped the FBI analyze materials recovered from one of the anthrax-tainted envelopes sent to a U.S. senator’s office in Washington, the newspaper said.