FBI searches Spokane apartment in ricin letter case

SPOKANE — Authorities in hazardous materials suits searched a downtown Spokane apartment Saturday, investigating the recent discovery of a pair of letters containing the deadly poison ricin.

Few details have been released in the case, and no arrests have been made. Federal investigators have been searching for the person who sent the letters, which were postmarked Tuesday in Spokane.

The letters were addressed to the downtown post office and the adjacent federal building, but authorities have not released a potential motive. They also have not said whether the letters targeted anyone in particular.

Ricin is a highly toxic substance made from castor beans. As little as 500 micrograms, the size of the head of a pin, can kill an adult if inhaled or ingested.

There have been no reports of illness connected to the letters.

FBI agents, Spokane police and U.S. Postal Service inspectors descended on the three-story apartment building Saturday morning and the investigation continued into the afternoon.

FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich would not say whether agents were questioning anyone in connection with the case.

“We are not actively looking for a subject,” Sandalo Dietrich said. “We are not asking the public’s help in bringing someone in.”

Despite the hazmat suits, officials said apartment residents were not at risk, and people were seen coming in and out of the brick building in the city’s historic Browne’s Addition neighborhood.

“There’s no public risk,” Sandalo Dietrich said.

Sandalo Dietrich would not say specifically why the FBI was searching the apartment.

“Information we developed led us to believe this was a productive spot to search,” she said.

Two letters containing the substance were intercepted at the downtown Spokane post office Tuesday.

The Postal Service has received no other reports of similar letters, said Jeremy Leder of the Postal Inspection Service on Saturday.

In a statement following the discovery, the Postal Service said the “crude form of the ricin suggests that it does not present a health risk to U.S. Postal Service personnel or to others who may have come in contact with the letter.”

The Spokane investigation comes a month after letters containing ricin were addressed to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge. A Mississippi man has been arrested in that case.

More in Local News

Turkey talk: Kindergartners explain the Thanksgiving holiday

Our annual pilgrimage led us this year to Pathfinder Kindergarten Center in Everett.

Police locate suspect in Snohomish River after he fled

They used a thermal-imaging camera to locate the man in the water near Dagmars Marina.

Electrical fire on roof of Marysville school extinguished

There was no apparent structural damage to Cascade Elementary School.

As police closed in, 2 heavily armed pot-shop robbers fled

Cops surrounded the place in Mountlake Terrace. The suspects were tracked by dogs and apprehended nearby.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

Snohomish County Council passes a no-new-taxes budget

The spending plan still funds the hiring of five new sheriff’s deputies and a code enforcement officer.

In Sultan, there was a seat at the table for everyone

Every year, the town’s community dinner ensures no one has to dine alone on Thanksgiving.

Most Read