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A Scientist's Quiet Life Took a Darker Turn

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Robert and Bonnie Duggan, who live six houses away from Ivins's family -- his wife, Diane, and their daughter and son -- recalled that they once asked to borrow his chainsaw to cut down trees along their back fence. Ivins insisted on cutting down the trees for them.

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Over the past two years, many who knew him saw the effects of accumulating pressure as the anthrax investigation veered toward him. "He would tell stories about how he would come home and everything he owned would be in piles," said a Fort Detrick employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because workers there had been instructed not to talk with reporters. The employee said his files, lab samples and equipment were frequently seized by authorities.

He was finding it harder and harder to work and was planning to retire in September. But even as his troubles mounted and his mood darkened, "a lot of people cared about him," Byrne said. "He is not Timothy McVeigh. He's not the Unabomber."

Still, by spring, Ivins's life seemed to be falling apart. Police were first called to his house on March 19, when he was discovered unconscious and briefly admitted to a hospital. On July 10, they encountered Ivins again, this time after a counselor called from Fort Detrick to report that the scientist was a danger to himself, and was ranting about weapons and making death threats. He went peacefully with police to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted to a psychiatric ward.

He was later released voluntarily, but his erratic behavior prompted his therapist, Jean C. Duley, to seek a protective order. Duley wrote that Ivins "has a history dating to his graduate days of homicidal threats, actions, plans, threats & actions toward therapists." She quoted his psychiatrist, Dr. David Irwin, as calling him "homicidal, sociopathic, with clear intentions." Irwin could not be reached for comment.

Early Sunday, police were again summoned to Ivins's house and found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. They took him to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where he died two days later.

That same day, the court dismissed Duley's case. A clerk explained the reason in a brief, handwritten note:

"Respondent deceased."

Staff writers Aaron Davis, Amy Goldstein and Josh White and researchers Julie Tate and Meg Smith contributed to this report.


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