Second Alleged Senate Anthrax Letter Found

ByABC News
November 16, 2001, 10:18 PM

Nov. 16 -- The FBI discovered a second letter they suspect is laced with anthrax that was addressed to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, investigators said today.

FBI officials said that the letter appears to be "in every respect" similar to the one opened in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office on Oct. 15.

The contents of that envelope puffed easily into the air and spread widely through the Hart office building, exposing dozens of people to bacteria. Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge described the Daschle letter as a weapon.

Officials said the new letter was postmarked Oct. 9 from Trenton, N.J., had the same handwriting and the same phony return address from the Greendale School in Franklin Park, N.J. There is no Greendale School in Franklin Park.

Investigators discovered the letter today while going through more than 250 barrels of unopened mail that was impounded immediately after the discovery of the first letter in Daschle's office. Hazardous materials experts began sorting through unopened mail addressed to the Capitol earlier this week at a facility in Northern Virginia.

The second letter has not been opened, the FBI said, but sources told ABCNEWS the bin where it was discovered was "completely contaminated" with anthrax anyway. The letter is on its way to a lab in Ft. Detrick, Md., for further testing.

Leahy's office is in the Russell Senate Building. It is not clear whether the suspected letter ever made it to his building or remained confined with the impounded. Capitol Hill Lt. Dan Nichols said the Russell Building and Dirksen Senate Office Building which contains a post office on Capitol Hill will be closed as a precaution to allow investigators to take environmental samples for anthrax detection.

However, health official said there was no reason to believe anyone who works in the Capitol Hill Buildings has been infected with anthrax because 6,500 people have been given nasal swabbings, and no one who works on Capitol Hill has tested positive for the deadly infection.