Saturday, August 9, 2008

Through surveillance, was FBI complicit in Ivins' death?

In his news conference on Wednesday, August 6, US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor mentioned (evidence point 4) that while Ivins had been under 24/7 surveillance, he discarded some materials on DNA coding.

If the FBI was about to charge Ivins, you would expect he was still under 24/7 surveillance, right?

Well, a tylenol overdose is entirely treatable--curable--during many hours after consumption. The patient receives N-acetyl cysteine or glutathione, which allows the body to detoxify the tylenol. Those who make it to hospital within about 16--24 hours will live.

SO...why was the FBI twiddling its thumbs during and after the time Ivins ingested his Tylenol #3 (acetaminophen with codeine)? Attorney Taylor began his remarks saying, "We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present the evidence to a jury to determine whether the evidence establishes Dr. Ivins' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Really? I'd like to see the medical records. Was there really no autopsy in this high-profile case? I'd also like someone to investigate the "traffic" between the agents performing surveillance and FBI headquarters while Ivins was ingesting his poison and starting to die at home.


Lizard said...

Most tylenol related deaths are from liver necrosis and are associated with alcohol consumption concurrent with the tylenol. I have seen no mention of alcohol playing a part here. If, however, the actual cause of death was respiratory failure as opposed to liver necrosis, it would indicate that the codeine, not the tylenol, was responsible. Overdose is never the specific cause of death, overdose causes something to fail, causing death. Tylenol is liver necrosis and respiratory failure is codeine. You are quite correct in your analysis if that is all there is to the story, but the data released cannot answer the question. Was there any indication that he was an alcoholic? If so, as little as a gram of acetaminophen (between 2 and 6 tablets, depending on strength) could have killed him, if taken with alcohol. But that could have been reversed in any E/R. Respiratory failure from opiate overdose would have been much harder to reverse, after only a few hours. We need to see the autopsy report and the coroner's report.

Dick Durata said...

I thought there wasn't an autopsy, just a medical examiner's report based on a blood test.
If there is different information out there, I'd like to know it.

Lizard said...

What I meant to say in my comment above was that if the cause of death was liver failure, the overdose may very well have been unintentional, and therefore not a sign of guilt at all. Since the amount of tylenol needed to cause liver necrosis is so small (if taken with alcohol in a person with an already compromised liver) it may well have been accidental. There was no note that we know of. Absent the full autopsy report, we CANNOT assume the cause of death was suicide.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Meryl,

Query if Ms. Duley was surveilling Ivins for FBI.

She appeared at court with FBI agent. She said the FBI advised her to get the restraint order in July.

But Ivins wrote an e-mail, way back in March, before any known reports of recent threats by Ivins, that he thought his therapist might be cooperating with the FBI.

Beside a breach of ethics, what could make a paranoid man worse than realizing his own therapist...

Anonymous said...

Why no autopsy?
Where was his family?
Where were the 24/7 agents?
How aggressive was his treatment?
Was it really a suicide?
He was a devout Catholic.
I wonder where his paster
was through all of this?
Catholics are less prone to suicide due to
their belief system.
Catholics also rarely cremate.
If he was so dangerous, why didn't he
do as he supposedly threatened?
Why wasn't he committed to protect
himself and others by this "theripist?"
I think he would have wanted a trial
Suicide was too easy.
Hatfill cleared his name.
Why couldn't he? All info given
was circumstantial.
I would like to believe this case was
prosecuted correctly but I have serious doubts.
The "killer" may still be at large.
With the case closed danger still lurks.
Too many people had access to
his lab.

Anonymous said...

By surveillance, were they just watching his house to see if he leaves? In that case, they'd have no idea if he overdosed and was too far gone before being taken to ER. Just a thought.
Need more info though, especially an autopsy.

Anonymous said...

So did he die from the codine or the tylenol? He, as a biological scientist could find no better drug or method of insuring an uninterrupted suicide? He was a Catholic and suicide and cremation? How did he spend the day of his death, where was his family, how long did it take him to die after ingesting the tylenol?
So many questions, why does all this seem familiar to other high profile cases over the last half century? Lone killer who dies or never has a trial.

Anonymous said...

Probably the only consistent aspects of this entire case are contradictory facts and an overall lack of detail and clarity. This is certainly true of the "suicide" allegations.

For example, according to the Frederick Police Department, "At the time when officers were called to [Dr. Ivins'] home, there was nothing to indicate it was a suicide..."

Alcohol certainly could have played a role in an accidental death, as Dr. Ivins was drinking heavily near the end of the investigation according to his attorney ("He was drinking excessively, much later on in the investigation." ) and to a colleague ("Late last fall, Bruce E. Ivins was drinking a liter of vodka some nights, taking large doses of sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs..." )

Although the Justice Dept. presentation and many news reports indicate that Dr. Ivins committed suicide because he was about to be indicted, his attorney has said that Dr. Ivins "never knew he was 'the suspect' in the [anthrax] attacks."

Nevertheless, according to Maryland's chief medical examiner, Dr. David Fowler, "the cause of Ivins' death was found to be an overdose of acetaminophen... [and] was ruled a suicide based on information from police and doctors..." (No further explanation given)

Neil Bates said...

You raise a good question, but isn't it possible that Ivins took the stuff e.g. at 1 AM and died at 5 AM and they thought he was asleep, whatever (where was his wife?) I do think it's scandalous that no autopsy, if indeed the case.