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FBI still without prime suspect in anthrax investigation

Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Months after anthrax-tainted letters killed five people and sickened more than a dozen, the FBI said Monday that its investigators do not have a prime suspect despite conducting hundreds of interviews in the case.

``There is no prime suspect in this case at this time,'' spokesman Bill Carter said.

However, the FBI _ renown for its behavioral profiles of criminal suspects _ does have some clues about the suspected anthrax-mailer, according to an earlier letter from the lead FBI investigator to a group of scientists.

Van Harp, the assistant director of the bureau's Washington office, wrote that the FBI believes that a single person, with experience working in a laboratory, is behind the mailings. Harp described this person as having ``a clear, rational thought process and appears to be very organized in the production and mailing of these letters.''

Harp also said the FBI believes that, because the mailed anthrax was of the so-called ``Ames strain'' of Bacillus anthracis, the suspect probably has or had legitimate access to biological agents in a laboratory. Harp also described the suspect as ``stand-offish'' and preferring to work alone rather than in groups.

``It is possible this person used off-hours in a laboratory or may have even established an improvised or concealed facility comprised of sufficient equipment to produce the anthrax,'' Harp said.

Harp's description was in a letter sent to the Washington-based American Association for Microbiology, which published the letter Feb. 1 on its Web site.

``It is very likely that one or more of you know this individual,'' Harp wrote to the group's members.
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