Bruce Ivins' Consciousness of Guilt
Ed Lake
April 11, 2010
(December 7, 2010)

"In any criminal trial it is permissible for the state to show that conduct or statements made by a defendant after the time of the alleged offense may have been influenced by the criminal act; that is, the conduct or statements show a consciousness of guilt."  From: Criminal Jury Instructions



A. Flight. Defendant may have fled after he discovered that he was about to be charged with the offense.

B. False statements. Defendant may have intentionally made certain false statements before his arrest.

C. False name. Defendant may have used a false name to conceal his identity.

D. Evidence tampering. Defendant may have intentionally tried to conceal, destroy or falsify evidence in this case.

E. Witness intimidation or bribery.  Defendant may have intentionally attempted to intimidate or coerce a witness whom he believed would testify against him.

Dr. Bruce Ivins

Dr. Bruce Ivins displayed numerous clear signs of consciousness of guilt after the anthrax attacks of 2001.

1.  December 2001- Destroying evidence, making false statements.

2.  February 2002 - Evidence tampering, making false statements.

3.  April 2002 - Submitting false evidence, making false statements.

4.  July 2008 - Intimidating witnesses.

In addition, on numerous occasions when FBI agents interviewed Dr. Ivins, he pointed the finger at others as being likely suspects.  Clearly, these were efforts to mislead the investigation way from him.  Also, his suicide in July of 2008 when he was about to be indicted for murder can be viewed as a way of fleeing prosecution.

The Unauthorized Swabbings and Cleanings
Dr. Ivins' False Statements

FBI/DOJ pdf file #847376 contains on pages 1 thru 26 a May 24, 2005 analysis of the two known occasions where Ivins did unauthorized swabbings and cleanups.  Starting on page 6, the FBI author of the analysis describes how Dr. Ivins' explanations do not match his actions.  In other words, Ivins was lying, giving the FBI reasons why he did things, but his actions show they were not the real reasons.   Or, as the author puts it:

IVINS' justifications for his actions following the independent sampling contradicted his explanation of motives for conducting the survey in the first place. 

Here is part of the FBI analysis of the December 2001 swabbings and cleanup:

If truly motivated by a concern of contamination on the cold-side of USAMRIID, upon evidence of such contamination, why did IVINS not pursue more extensive methods toward correcting the problem?  How would  improper handing of the B.a. samples be corrected without passing along information that the containment system was not working properly?

Why conduct the survey in the first place if he did not want to cause alarm, especially if he suspected that he would find contamination?

Ivins had the courage to conduct the swabbing without command approval, yet lacked the initiative to inform the appropriate authorities when the results were presumptively positive?

Ivins was obviously concerned enough about possible contamination to knowingly violate USAMRIID protocol, yet at the moment his concerns were validated, he took no actions toward addressing the problems for the benefit of USAMRIID.

The excuse that Dr. Ivins used for doing the first swabbing and cleanup in December of 2001 was that the co-worker with whom he shared an office was worried that the people in Building 1412 who were handing the anthrax letters were not being careful enough.  She was particularly concerned that handling an anthrax letter under a hood could result in spores clinging to the gloves that were being used, and when a person's hands are taken out from under the hood, the spores on the gloves would come along, instead of getting sucked out through the air purifiers.

Here is more of the analysis (information in brackets [example] are my relatively safe assumptions of some of what was redacted, XX's indicate the rest of the redacted information):

If motivated by concern for [his co-worker], why did IVINS not inform [her] of the presumptive positive results from [her] desk?  IVINS confirmed during an interview that he did not inform [her] of his findings; however, reasons for not telling [her] were not provided.  The assessment by IVINS that the level of contamination within the office was not a health risk to himself, XXXXXX did not diminish the significance of finding contamination outside of the hot suites.

On page 11 there is a similar analysis of Dr. Ivins' unauthorized swabbings and cleaning in April 2002:

IVINS' explanations of his motivations for the April 2002 independent survey were contradictory to his actions following the December 2001 survey.

If IVINS continued to be legitimately concerned that [some other scientist] was contaminating the office space, why did he not inform [that scientist] of his previous swabbing results, or give [him or her] some guidance with regard to safe handling of B.a.?

One of IVINS' previous arguments for not notifying USAMRIID command of his December 2001 swabbing was that he believed he had sufficiently cleaned the contaminated desk area; however, IVINS used the possibility that [his co-worker's] desk was not completely decontaminated in December 2001 as one of the reasons to justify further swabbing. 

[Someone else's] survey of the XXX suite yielded no indication of a breach of containment from the hot-side to the cold-side.  Why were IVINS' convictions so strong regarding possible contamination on the cold-side, while the concerns of other experienced researchers, such as XXXXX and XXXXX were satisfied by the results of [the other person's] survey within XXX.

It was evidently clear to the author of the analysis that Ivins was just making up excuses for what he did.  Why would Ivins do that?  The next part of the analysis from pages 12 and 13 suggests why:

During an interview on March 31, 2005, IVINS claimed that the path he chose to swab was the path that the Daschle letter took from [a specific area] to that through the pass-box in the wall of suite B3.  To the contrary, IVINS did not swab the hallway or locations near [the specific area.]  Aside from the areas near the B3 pass-box and the freezers in the hallway outside the B3 suite, IVINS did not extensively survey the hallway leading to B3.  Of the 56 samples collected on April 15-16, 2002, 38 samples were collected from the men's locker room, and 10 samples derived from locations near the B3 pass-box and the tops of freezers in the hallway between the B2/B3 hallway.

Based upon IVINS' claim that he swabbed the path of the Daschle letter, and given the fact that over half the survey samples derived from his office, the following question could be posed: Did IVINS have reason to suspect contamination in his office because he had intimate knowledge that the Daschle letter was present in room XXX at some point in time?

There is also an analysis of the fact that Ivins' Bacteriology Division was in some kind of rivalry with the Diagnostic Systems Division (DSD).  This is from page 13:

IVINS expressed, during multiple interviews and in sworn statements, his concerns regarding the unsafe laboratory practices of DSD employees.  As a justification for his unauthorized environmental surveys, IVINS cited information that DSD personnel did not utilize safety precautions.  However, during neither the December 2001 survey, nor the April 2002 survey, did IVINS swab areas associated with DSD laboratories or personnel, aside from [his co-worker's] desk.  According to IVINS, [a superior] inwardly seemed pleased with IVINS' finding of contamination because it allowed [that superior] to "point a finger' at DSD for poor laboratory safety procedures.   Notably, the majority of the B.a. contamination identified on the cold-side of Building 1425 was in locations associated with IVINS more so than DSD.

Then there is also the fact that when others did swabbings, they didn't find as many spores as Ivins found.  It was as if Ivins knew exactly where to look because it's where he'd carried the anthrax letters he'd prepared Of course, Dr. Ivins had an explanation: he simply claimed that he did a better job of swabbing than the other scientists.  Who could prove otherwise?

Then there's the fact that the Diagnostic Systems Division areas where the Daschle letter was handled most extensively were NOT contaminated.  Yet, Ivins tried to get people to believe that moving the letter inside ziploc bags from the DSD area to his area in Building 1425 left a trail of contamination that Ivins needed to clean up.

Then there's the fact that those two cleanups in December of 2001 and April of 2002 were the only times Ivins ever did such cleanups in areas outside of the hot suites.  It was not something he did routinely.

December 2001 - Ivins' Reason for Destroying Evidence

Why did Dr. Ivins attempt to destroy evidence by cleaning areas around his office in December of 2001, three months after the malings?   It  appears that December 2001 is when he learned that the Ames strain was not a common strain used by countless laboratories all over the world, as everyone originally thought.   It appears Ivins had used the Ames strain because he thought it could never be traced back to USAMRIID.  In December of 2001, however, it was learned that due to a misunderstanding over a mailing label, the Ames strain was not a common strain obtained from the USDA in Ames, Iowa.  It was actually a rare strain shipped directly from Texas A&M to USAMRIID, and maintained and distributed only by USAMRIID.

A strain that Dr. Ivins thought could never be traced back to USAMRIID was suddenly a strain that might easily be traced back to USAMRIID.  It was suddenly necessary to clean up the areas where he'd prepared and handled the anthrax letters in September and October of 2001. 

April 2002 - Ivins' Reason for Destroying Evidence

The attack anthrax could not only be traced back to USAMRIID, in April of 2002 Dr. Ivins learned that there were mutations in the attack anthrax, which opened up the possibility that the attack anthrax could not only be traced to USAMRIID, it could be traced to Dr. Ivins' own stocks.  It was suddenly time to do another cleaning.

However, the areas where he'd prepared and handled the anthrax letters were not the only places were evidence could be found that might incriminate him.  There was evidence in his stocks of anthrax, too. 

February 2002 - Submitting Invalid Evidence

Dr. Bruce Ivins had 35 years of experience in preparing slants for use in scientific matters and as evidence.  Yet, when he was asked in February of 2002 to submit samples from flask RMR-1029, which Dr. Ivins knew was the source for the spores that were grown to produce the attack anthrax powders, Dr. Ivins prepared slants using invalid procedures, procedures that would make the samples unusable in court.  In other words, the samples could never be used against him in court.

The samples he sent to the FBI repository were invalid because they used "homemade" slants instead of the Remel slants specified in the subpoena, they used the wrong media, and they violated chain of custody rules.

April 2002 - Submitting False Evidence

April 2002 was not just the time when Ivins attempted to destroy evidence by doing a second cleaning of his lab, it was also the same month when he tried to mislead the FBI by submitting that infamous false sample to the FBI repository.  The April slants were intended to replace the invalid slants Ivins had submitted in February.  But, the contents of the second set of slants were genetic "polar opposites" to what was in flask RMR-1029.

On April 15 and 16, 2002, Ivins did his unauthorized swabbing and cleaning.  Just a few days before, Ivins received a subpoena telling him to submit two new representations of the contents of flask RMR-1029 to the FBI's repository.  Instead of complying with the subpoena, On April 10, 2002, Ivins either supplied samples that deliberately excluded the mutations in flask RMR-1029 or he submitted samples that were not actually from flask RMR-1029.   Either way, it should be clear that Ivins was displaying "consciousness of guilt" by attempting to mislead the investigation and by destroying evidence.

July 2008 - Intimidation of Witnesses

On June 9, 2008, Department of Justice lawyers advised Dr. Ivins and his lawyer of some of the evidence that was being presented to a Grand Jury that would prove that Dr. Ivins was the anthrax mailer.  After looking at the evidence, Dr. Ivins' lawyer advised Dr. Ivins that he should prepare himself to be indicted by that Grand Jury.

On Wednesday, July 9, 2008, while at a group therapy session in Frederick, Maryland, Dr. Ivins revealed to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and other members of the therapy group that he was a suspect in the Amerithrax investigation.  He stated that he was angry at the investigators, the government, and the system in general.  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.  He said he had a bullet-proof vest, and a list of co-workers, and added that he was going to obtain a Glock firearm from his son within the next day, because federal agents are watching him and he could not obtain a weapon on his own. 

Based on these statements, the Social Worker called the Frederick, Maryland, police department, and they took custody of Bruce Ivins on Thursday, July 10, 2008, for a forensic evaluation at Frederick Memorial.

At the hospital, Dr. Ivins made menacing phone calls to his social worker Jean Duley on July 11 and 12.

The social worker obtained a Peace Order (restraining order against Dr. Ivins) on July 24, 2008.  It is available for viewing on thesmokinggun.comOn page 2, in her own handwriting, Ivins counselor Ms Jean Duley states that she had received a subpoena and was scheduled to testify before a Grand Jury on August 1, 2008.

July 2008 - Seeking To Escape Justice

At the hospital, Dr. Ivins apparently tried to build a case for an insanity plea by trying to convince a psychiatrist that he couldn't remember committing the crime.  He also repeated over and over that he was not the kind of person who would deliberately murder five people, indicating that he hadn't planned to kill anyone, he had intended to save lives by sending out the anthrax-laced warning letters.

Escaping Justice

According to Wikipedia: On the morning of July 27, 2008, Ivins was found unconscious at his home. He was taken to Frederick Memorial Hospital and died on July 29 from an overdose of Tylenol, an apparent suicide. No autopsy was ordered following his death because blood tests prior to his death made it unnecessary. A summary of the police report of his death, released in 2009, lists the cause of death as liver and kidney failure, citing his purchase of 2 bottles of Tylenol PM. His family declined to put him on the liver transplant list, and he was removed from life support. 

May 6, 2010 - Added information about April 10, 2002, when Ivins supplied the false sample to FBIR.  The exact date wasn't previously mentioned.
December 7, 2010 - Added some details about the two sets of slants Ivins sent to FBIR in February and April.


© Copyright 2010 by Ed Lake
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