ANTHRAX SEARCH IN BOCA BUILDING ENDS



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Last Updated

25 Aug 2003

Source: Associated Press, September 11, 2002.

Anthrax search in Boca building ends

(AP) -- Federal investigators completed their searches of the anthrax-tainted former home of The National Enquirer on Tuesday after scouring the building for 12 days in search of clues in last year's anthrax attack.

''We wrapped up and we left,'' FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said.

Federal investigators have provided few details about the searches, declining to elaborate on the hundreds of samples collected from the building and on whether they found the source of the anthrax that fatally infected photo editor Robert Stevens (case 5) last fall.

Investigators were searching for the letter or package that brought anthrax into the building, owned by tabloid publisher American Media Inc. Another AMI employee was hospitalized for three weeks after the attack (case 7). Five people died nationwide.

Federal officials have named no suspects in the anthrax attacks, though U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said biowarfare expert Steven J. Hatfill remains a ''person of interest.'' Hatfill has repeatedly denied any connection and his attorney recently demanded an apology from the government.

Armed with new techniques to search for anthrax spores, investigators returned to the Boca Raton building Aug. 28, hoping new evidence would revive the 11-month-old investigation.

The building has remained under federal quarantine and continuous security since Oct. 7, and company officials are lobbying lawmakers for help to clean up the building. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he plans to introduce legislation that would require the federal government to take over the building or provide assistance in cleaning it up.

After the quarantine, American Media moved its headquarters to rented offices nearby to publish its six supermarket tabloids, including the Enquirer, Globe and Weekly World News.