Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Amerithrax 2001

A Recurring Theme

Just one day after Richardson was admitted to the hospital and immediately before the deaths of Morris and Curseen, another postal worker at the Brentwood facility became ill. After clinical tests, the unnamed victim was treated from inhalation anthrax and was fortunate to fully recover from the disease.

At about the same time that the Brentwood postal workers were being treated in D.C., there was another suspected outbreak at the New York Post. A 34-year-old mailroom worker was treated with antibiotics after he began to develop skin lesions – probably from cutaneous anthrax, although it was never confirmed. Days later, another New York Post employee, Mark Cunningham also developed skin lesions. He would be the third confirmed case of cutaneous anthrax at the New York Post. Both men made a full recovery following treatment.

David Hose
David Hose

A couple hundred miles away in Sterling, Virginia not far from Washington's Dulles International Airport, there was yet another outbreak. This time it was located at a State Department mail center where 59-year-old David Hose contracted inhalation anthrax. He was the ninth case of inhalation anthrax that year and the fifth in the Washington, D.C., area.

Initially, investigators believed that Hose contracted the disease from the Daschle letter, which was suspected to have passed from Brentwood through to the Sterling facility. However, a newly discovered letter sent to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont was the probable source of Hose's anthrax exposure. It was the fourth and last anthrax letter found.

Leahy envelope
Leahy envelope

The Leahy letter was intended to arrive at the senator's office in mid-October. Yet, the zip code was accidentally misread and the letter instead ended up at the State Department mail center in Sterling, where it arrived on October 15. The letter was immediately sent out for testing.

According to an article by UCLA's Department of Epidemiology, the letter contained approximately one gram of anthrax, less than two years old. It was the Ames strain of anthrax used in the other letters and it was also mailed from the Trenton New Jersey postal facility. It was clear that the same individual who had sent the Leahy letter also sent the other anthrax-laden letters.

UCLA's Department of Epidemiology suspected that there were more than just four anthrax-laden letters sent across the United States. In fact, it was believed that there were at least seven letters in total, which either directly or indirectly contaminated the 20 known suspected and confirmed victims. However, the three other suspected letters were never recovered.


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