When tipped off that accused anthrax murderer Bruce E. Ivins planned to poison people, the Frederick, Md. police should have immediately investigated him, Dr. Roger Depue, a former chief of FBI profiling, tells Newsmax.
Depue, who was a member of the panel that investigated the Virginia Tech massacre, draws parallels between the Ivins case and that of Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people there in April 2007.
“Oftentimes, there are a number of people in the environment who know things, or suspect things, and they just don’t communicate with one another,” Depue says. “In the Cho situation, you see that some of his teachers at Virginia Tech became very concerned about him. Students in the classes that he was in became very concerned about him. But the people in the educational community were not necessarily talking with the police. The police weren’t necessarily talking with the school administration. So a lot of people had information, but they weren’t talking with one another.”
Looking at Ivins, Depue sees a man who described himself as paranoid and likely was a schizophrenic.
“You have this strange behavior in college, apparently it seems like his late 20s, early 30s, with this KKG sorority,” Depue notes. “So he’s having some kind of strange fantasies way back then. There’s a mention there that he broke into the sorority to steal their secret handbook. It appears that he had mental health problems early on and that he had some bizarre fantasies early on.”
Ivins’ description of sitting at a desk and seeing himself sitting there is significant, Depue says. In a poem, Ivins referred to himself as exchanging personalities with another person.
“It's like having two in one,” he wrote. “Actually, it's rather fun!”
“That’s definitely an alteration of his perception and kind of a detachment from himself,” he says. “Clinically, it could be a dissosiative disorder. It could show up in several mental illnesses, but my bet would be schizophrenia.”
Besides being a former FBI profiler, Depue was once a police chief in Clare, Mich., and is also a therapist. Now a profiler with the Academy Group, Depue notes that, according to the Washington Post, Ivins told a counselor that he was obsessed with a young woman and had “mixed poison” that he brought when he went to watch her play a soccer game. The counselor contacted the Frederick police but was told that unless Ivins had provided the full name of his intended victim, there was little that could be done, according to the paper.
Depue says Ivins’ fantasy of killing someone should have triggered alarms.
“In this case, it’s the soccer team, a female soccer player,” Depue says. “He’s going to go to the game, and if the team loses, then he plans on killing this female soccer player. It’s certainly homicidal ideation, there’s no question about that. He’s moved from fantasy to behavior, the extremely dangerous second step. Once a person moves from fantasy to behavior, to acting out the fantasy — the more you think about it, the closer you move to acting on it.”
Depue asks: Why didn’t someone notify his employer, the Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where he had access to deadly substances.
As a police chief, Depue says, “I would have taken steps to investigate it further. And if I knew that he was working in a place where he had access to poisons and he admitted to his therapist that he put a batch of poison together, or mixed something that was poisonous together, then took it out with the intention of killing somebody, it seems to me you’re duty bound to contact the employer and say, ‘Look, this guy is either taking poison from his employment or he represents a risk in his place of employment. He has at least demonstrated homicidal ideation.’”
Both the Ivins and Cho cases highlight the need for “new rules” to allow therapists and the police to better assess information and notify an employer if warranted, Depue says.
Employers, counselors, and police should be on the lookout for warning signs like violent writings or drawings, anger problems, fascination with weapons, boasting of combat proficiency, suicidal or homicidal ideation, stalking, interest in previous killings, and statements made about violence and cruelty.
“If experts see warnings signs, it’s a flag, and assessment teams should be set up to look and see if there’s anything more,” Depue says.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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