Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

May 19, 2013

FBI searches apartment in ricin letter case

SPOKANE, Wash. — Authorities in hazardous materials suits searched a downtown Spokane apartment Saturday, investigating the recent discovery of a pair of letters containing the deadly poison ricin.

Few details have been released in the case, and no arrests have been made. Federal investigators have been searching for the person who sent the letters, which were postmarked Tuesday in Spokane.

The letters were addressed to the downtown post office and the adjacent federal building, but authorities have not released a potential motive. They also have not said whether the letters targeted anyone in particular.

Ricin is a highly toxic substance made from castor beans. As little as 500 micrograms, the size of the head of a pin, can kill an adult if inhaled or ingested.

There have been no reports of illness connected to the letters.

FBI agents, Spokane police and U.S. Postal Service inspectors descended on the three-story apartment building Saturday morning and the investigation continued into the afternoon.  

FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich would not say whether agents were questioning anyone in connection with the case.

“We are not actively looking for a subject,” Sandalo Dietrich said. “We are not asking the public’s help in bringing someone in.”

Despite the hazmat suits, officials said apartment residents were not at risk, and people were seen coming in and out of the brick building in the city’s historic Browne’s Addition neighborhood.

“There’s no public risk,” Sandalo Dietrich said.

Scott Ward has lived in the building for three years, and lives on the second floor near the apartment that was being searched. He said he does not know the neighbor who lives in that apartment.

“He’s a guy with a big beard,” Ward said. “He sticks to himself.”

“He doesn’t talk,” said Ward, who added he was awakened about 7 a.m. by the sounds of “banging and what sounded like a big vacuum.”

Building resident Jim Lehman said he was asleep when he was called by a friend. “He said, ‘hey Jim, you’re surrounded,”’ Lehman said. Lehman said he saw workers in hazardous material suits working in a second floor apartment.

“It was all gas masks and the door was open and there were hoses in there,” Lehman said.

Sandalo Dietrich would not say specifically why the FBI was searching the apartment.

“Information we developed led us to believe this was a productive spot to search,” she said.

Two letters containing the substance were intercepted at the downtown Spokane post office Tuesday.

The Postal Service has received no other reports of similar letters, said Jeremy Leder of the Postal Inspection Service on Saturday.

In a statement following the discovery, the Postal Service said the “crude form of the ricin suggests that it does not present a health risk to U.S. Postal Service personnel or to others who may have come in contact with the letter.”

The Spokane investigation comes a month after letters containing ricin were addressed to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge. A Mississippi man has been arrested in that case.

 

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3 1/2 years

    An ex-con who spent most of his adult life behind bars on Thursday got what he said he wanted for robbing a suburban Chicago bank. The 74-year-old gets to go back to the place he called home — prison.

    April 18, 2014

  • Today in History for Friday, April 18, 2014

    Today is Good Friday, April 18, the 108th day of 2014. There are 257 days left in the year.

    April 18, 2014

  • Another arrest made in kidnapping

    Another arrest was made in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, federal investigators said Thursday.
    Quantavious Thompson was taken into custody late Wednesday afternoon, FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said in a statement. Details on his arrest weren’t immediately available.

    April 18, 2014

  • Boston Marathon Bombi_Rich copy.jpg Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP120401029 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 15, the 105th day of 2014. There are 260 days left in the year.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Space Station_Rich copy.jpg NASA OKs space station visit despite dead computer

    NASA is pressing ahead with Monday’s planned launch of a supply ship despite a critical computer outage at the International Space Station, promising the situation is safe.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fatal Shooting Kansas_Rich copy.jpg 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seven Dead Babies Arr_Rich(1) copy.jpg Utah woman arrested after 7 dead babies found

    A Utah woman accused of killing several babies she gave birth to over 10 years was arrested Sunday after police discovered seven tiny bodies stuffed in separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home.
    Megan Huntsman, 39, who lived in the Pleasant Grove home until three years ago, had the infants between 1996 and 2006, investigators said.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP110714053482 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, April 14, 2014

    Today is Monday, April 14, the 104th day of 2014. There are 261 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Passover begins at sunset.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Range Showdow_Rich copy.jpg Feds release cows gathered in Nevada roundup

    Federal land managers confirmed Saturday that they released all 400 or so head of cattle rounded up on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results