Bruce Ivins was an Army scientist who had an ongoing battle with depression and delusions. After Ivins' suicide last week, officials discovered that there may have been more to Ivins than his mental illness. According to documents released Wednesday by the Justice Department, Ivins was the person responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people. Among the court papers were excerpts from disturbing e-mails Ivins had sent to a friend regarding his bouts with mental illness. One of those e-mails, dated August 2000, recounted "one of [Ivins'] worst nights in months" and his "paranoid, delusional thoughts."
"I wish I could control the thoughts in my mind," the e-mail read. "It's hard enough sometimes controlling my behavior. When I'm being eaten alive inside, I always try to put on a good front at work and at home, so I don't spread the pestilence."
The Justice Department released information Wednesday stating that Ivins "was the only person responsible" for the anthrax epidemic and was the sole custodian of highly purified anthrax spores with "certain genetic mutations identical" to the toxin used in the attacks. Investigators were also able to trace the envelopes used in the attacks back to Ivins' lab.
"We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present evidence to the jury," said U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor.
There were also "dozens of documents" released by the Justice Department that depict Ivins as "a vengeful, disturbed scientist" who often had thoughts of "being eaten alive."
"He said he was not going to face the death penalty, but instead had a plan to kill co-workers and other individuals who had wronged him," one affidavit read.
Another affidavit detailed an April 3, 2000 e-mail written by Ivins referring to his work and use of medication.
"Occasionally I get this tingling that goes down both arms," read the e-mail. "At the same time I get dizzy and get this unidentifiable 'metallic' taste in my mouth. (I'm not trying to be funny, [redacted] ... It actually scares me a bit.) Other times it's like I'm not only sitting at my desk doing work, I'm also a few feet away watching me do it. There's nothing like living in both the first person singular AND the third person singular!"
Yet another e-mail, this one dated June 27, 2000, recounted Ivins' ongoing battle with depression. Also included were references to psychotropic drugs, including antidepressants and anti-psychotics prescribed to Ivins from 2000 through 2006.
"Even with the Celexa and the counseling, the depression episodes still come and go," Ivins wrote, according to one affidavit. "Remember when I told you about the 'metallic' taste in my mouth that I got periodically? It's when I get these 'paranoid' episodes ... Ominously, a lot of the feelings of isolation - and desolation - that I went through before college are returning. I don't want to relive those years again."
The federal affidavits also showed that Ivins submitted false anthrax samples to FBI officials and was unable to give investigators "an adequate explanation for his late laboratory work hours around the time of" the attacks.