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Anthrax Killer Update

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, envelopes laced with anthrax appeared in government offices, newsrooms, and post offices around the country. Five people died and 17 others became ill. Many people believed that the sender, because of statements in the letters such as "Allah is great," was likely a terrorist linked to al-Qaida, the group behind the 9/11 attacks.

But on July 29, 2008, the anthrax case was back in the news after Bruce E. Ivins, an American biodefense scientist, killed himself by overdosing on Tylenol with codeine, as federal prosecutors were planning to indict him for the toxic 2001 attacks.

In October and November of 2001, after reviewing the handwriting on the anthrax letters and envelopes, I wrote a series of columns on the type of person I believed fit the handwriting profile.

Here is a synopsis of what I wrote: "Men who attempt to disguise their handwriting are more likely to use an all-capital block printing style. So, I’m going to assume that the writer of these letters is a male. It is likely that the writer of the anthrax letters intended to write “Penacilin” to cast suspicion on an uneducated or foreign writer. There are no indications that the writer was raised and educated outside of the United States. The national news services reported that the envelopes were written in “a child-like printing.” I see the handwriting as having a mature, educated look to it. The writing slopes sharply down hill indicating that the writer suffers from long-term depression and feels disillusioned and disappointed. The excessive overwriting, similar to that of Albert DeSalvo, (the Boston Strangler) and Ted Bundy, shows extreme internal tension. The repetitive hand movement is a sign that the writer has obsessive and compulsive thoughts and ideas, which may be exhibited in unrestrained behavior. "

Let's see how close my profile fits Bruce Ivins.

Ivins, 62, was born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in microbiology, from the University of Cincinnati. He had been treated for severe depression and social worker Jean C. Duley said, Ivins had "a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, plans and actions towards therapist...As far back as the year 2000, (Ivins) has actually attempted to murder several other people. . . . When he feels that he's been slighted . . . he plots and actually tries to carry out revenge killings." She added that Ivins had been "forensically diagnosed by several top psychiatrists as a sociopathic, homicidal killer. I have that in evidence. And through my working with him, I also believe that to be very true."

Ivins background and personality certainly match the handwriting profile. It would be interesting to compare Ivins printing to the printing on the anthrax letters and envelopes.

Michelle Dresbold is a nationally known handwriting expert and personality profiler. Are you a doodler? Have a personal question or problem? Mail your doodles and handwritten letters to: The Handwriting Doctor, P.O. Box 1161, Monroeville, PA 15146.

© Copyright 2008 Michelle Dresbold and James Kwalwasser