In newly released court tapes, a mental health therapist who was treating Bruce E. Ivins, the government scientist who was apparently the focus of the FBI's anthrax investigation, says Ivins was so distraught that he might be charged with five anthrax killings in 2001 that he had threatened to kill his co-workers.
The therapist also testified last month that Ivins, who committed suicide last week, had previously tried to murder several people.
The tapes, obtained by the New York Times, document a man who was unraveling and a therapist, Jean Duley, who was scared for her life.
During the hearing where Duley sought a restraining order, she told a Maryland District Court judge that Ivins arrived for a July 9 group therapy session at a hospital in Frederick, Md., and was extremely agitated.
Ivins "proceeded to describe to the group a very long and detailed homicidal plan and intention to, that he had bought a bulletproof vest, had obtained a gun, a very detailed plan to kill his co-workers," Duley testified.
He believed he was about to be indicted on capital murder charges and planned to go out in a "blaze of glory," Duley said at the July 24 hearing.
She also told the court that Ivins, 62, had "attempted to murder several other people, either through poisoning — he is a revenge killer."
Duley said she contacted his attorneys and had him committed to the hospital. She told the judge that Ivins began leaving threatening voicemail messages and that she feared for her life. The judge issued the restraining order.
Colleagues and friends of Ivins said he had become noticeably distressed at the FBI scrutiny. Jeff Adamovicz, who worked with Ivins at the Army's biodefense lab at Fort Detrick, Md., says Ivins was upset by the way investigators treated his family.
"Bruce told me that all of them had been detained at different locations, his children and his wife and then himself. And they were extensively questioned, and they told his wife and his children some disturbing things about their father being a murderer," Adamovicz said.
Ivins also complained that the FBI was staking out his house, Adamovicz said, and he just couldn't get past the fact that the FBI suspected him.
"I think simply Bruce was a high-strung person and very sensitive, and this pressure was just simply adding to his depression that ultimately caused him to kill himself," he said.
Adamovicz said he couldn't imagine that Ivins might have been involved in the 2001 attacks in which five people died after receiving anthrax-tainted letters in the mail. He wanted the FBI to offer a motive or evidence linking the anthrax spores to Ivins.
Another former colleague, W. Russell Byrne, also doubted that Ivins was behind the anthrax attacks. If the FBI thought he had done it, Byrne said, why hadn't they just arrested him? Some news reports indicate that investigators told Ivins they were going to charge him with the 2001 anthrax deaths.
"Deep in my heart, I won't believe he had anything to do with it until I see him in the afterlife and he says, 'Yeah, I did it, Russ.' That's the only way I'm really going to believe it deep in my heart. That's the truth."
The FBI has indicated it may release details of its case against Ivins, possibly this week.