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Suspect pond near D.C. now just muck

By Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 14, 2003

FREDERICK, Md. - Federal investigators used rakes and tree limbs Friday to pick objects from the muck at the bottom of a drained pond as they hunted evidence in the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001.

Among the items fished out of the gray-brown mud were sodden bits of what appeared to be stiff fabric or flexible plastic. One investigator took photographs, and points near the bank were marked with bright pink flags.

The FBI is seeking clues to the origin of the anthrax-laced letters that killed five people and sickened 17.

FBI Agent Larry Faust of the Baltimore field office declined to comment on the search.

The Washington Post reported last month that divers recovered items from the pond over the winter, including a clear box with holes that could accommodate gloves. Also recovered were vials wrapped in plastic.

The one-acre pond is in a city-owned forest about 50 miles northwest of Washington and eight miles from the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, the primary custodian of the strain of anthrax found in the envelopes sent to the victims.

Dr. Steven Hatfill, a bioterrorism expert who once worked as a researcher at the institute, has been described as a "person of interest" in the investigation. Hatfill has denied any involvement in the attacks.

The FBI drained the pond of its 4- to 5-foot-deep water over the past few days. By Friday, all that remained were a few puddles.

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