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Therapist says Ivins was planning to kill

Times Staff Writer

Bruce E. Ivins, the chief suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, was a “sociopathic, homicidal killer” who planned to kill his co-workers “because he was about to be indicted on capital murder charges,” a Maryland court was warned shortly before Ivins committed suicide last week.

Jean Carol Duley, a psychotherapist who had treated Ivins for six months, told the court July 24 that the microbiologist had purchased a bulletproof vest and gun and boasted of roaming the streets hoping to stab someone.

Ivins claimed during therapy sessions that he had “attempted to murder several people” using poison, as long ago as 2000, Duley said in an audio recording of the hearing.

Duley could not be reached Sunday.

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She described Ivins as a “revenge killer” who seemed especially sensitive to perceived slights from women.

Ivins, 62, an anthrax researcher at the Army’s main biodefense laboratory, took an overdose of Tylenol and died Tuesday after he was advised that the FBI planned to charge him with producing the powdery anthrax spores used in the worst bioterrorist attack in the nation’s history.

Duley, 45, program director for the Frederick County psychiatric center, asked the court for a protective order on the day she testified because Ivins was being released from a psychiatric hospital. She said she feared the scientist would come after her because she had cooperated with the FBI and police.

Judge W. Milnor Roberts issued the protective order and scheduled another hearing for July 30.

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Duley said Ivins’ behavior had grown more alarming in recent weeks. On July 9, she said, Ivins showed up for a group session “extremely agitated, out of control,” and said he had bought a bulletproof vest and gun.

“He proceeded to describe to the group a very long and detailed homicidal plan . . . to kill his co-workers because he was about to be indicted on capital murder charges,” she said.

Duley said several psychiatrists who treated Ivins had diagnosed him as a “sociopathic, homicidal killer.” Through her therapy sessions, she added, “I also believe that to be true.”

Duley told the court that she contacted Ivins’ lawyers and police after the session.

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Police quickly escorted Ivins from his workspace in the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Md., where Ivins specialized in trying to develop vaccines in the bacteriology division.

The 2001 anthrax attacks, just weeks after Sept. 11, further traumatized the nation. Anthrax-laced letters mailed from a New Jersey post box ultimately killed five people, crippled mail delivery for months, shut down a Senate office building and cost an estimated $25 billion.

One of the letters was addressed to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Daschle said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was not convinced Ivins was the sole culprit, but admitted that the FBI had not briefed him on their evidence.

Daschle said he had “real concerns about the quality of the investigation,” especially after the government agreed last month to pay $5.8 million in an out-of-court settlement to Steven J. Hatfill, another Ft. Detrick researcher who authorities initially identified as a “person of interest.”

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Tom Ridge, who was President Bush’s secretary of Homeland Security during the attacks, said he hadn’t been briefed either. But he defended the FBI on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I know that they were relentless, relentless, both domestically and overseas,” he said.

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bob.drogin@latimes.com

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