The First Victim

Bob Stevens, the 63-year-old “master photo retoucher” who came back from retirement to join his colleagues at the National Enquirer’s headquarters in Boca Raton, was not the first victim of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Seven people in the New York area before him had been exposed, although their doctors were mostly unaware of what was happening to them, but in the days that followed they were treated and survived. For those seven, the ordeal began, according to the official version of events, when several letters postmarked from New Jersey on September 18 circulated through the postal system and lodged at last in the bins and baskets of their high-profile addressees. The very next day, on September 19, a handful of staffers at American Media Inc. in Florida opened a “weird love letter to Jennifer Lopez” that contained a soapy powder, as they recalled. A few days later, things began going wrong. On September 24, Ernie Blanco wasn’t feeling well. The next day, Blanco’s coworker in the AMI mailroom, Stephanie Dailey, opened a letter addressed to the National Enquirer that also had powder in it. Bob didn’t feel well the day after that, but he stayed late at the office –the next morning,Thursday the 27th, he was leaving with his wife on a driving trip to North Carolina.

“On Friday, he had huffed his way up to the giant American flag atop Chimney Rock near Asheville”… [while back in Florida at AMI] “On Sept. 28 [Ernesto Blanco] couldn’t face the afternoon mail run. A worried security guard drove him all the way back to North Miami” 73-year-old Blanco, who picked up AMI’s mail from the post office and handed it out in the 3-story AMI building, suffered from chronic lung disease. As both men felt increasingly worse on Sunday, the Stevenses started for home Monday morning (Oct 1) and Ernesto Blanco was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. Late Monday, overnight at 2am, Maureen Stevens took her husband to the emergency room at nearby JFK Medical Center. Reports later said that Bob was incoherent when he checked in and shortly after that he was comatose.

   On October 3, a sample of Bob’s spinal fluid was flown by coporate jet to the Northern Arizona University lab of anthrax specialist, Paul Keim. The doctors were hoping for genetic markers to determine the strain. Confirmation came on the 4th, and the story hit the presses all about the same time that a team of 15 from the CDC assembled and jetted down to Florida while the news was broken to AMI employees. Maria Peters recalled that the news about Bob’s anthrax  was the first announcement delivered over a brand new PA system. Workers were reassured and everyone was given a call number to the health department. On Friday afternoon, staffers held a meeting to discuss it and then they got the next bit of news –Bob died at 3:55 p.m. Most of the people who left the AMI offices that Friday never returned to the building.  “At 3:55 p.m. on Friday [Oct5], Stevens’ heart stopped. Investigators sealed Stevens’ home with yellow crime-scene tape and carted off clothes and other belongings in red biohazard bags. His home would prove a dead end, but they soon found anthrax spores in the AMI mailroom and on the keyboard of Stevens’ computer”

[AMI general counsel]”Kahane said when he was able to contact John O’Malley, Palm Beach environmental health administrator, “I asked him, `Do we need to close the building?’ He told me Dr. Jean Malecki, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department, would speak to a meeting of employees the next morning.”
The next day [Fri, 10/5] at 4 p.m. an investigative3 team from the CDC, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspector’s office arrived at the AMI building along with O’Malley. 
  “There was a uniform consensus: You have absolutely nothing to worry about,” said Kahane. “They went to Bob’s work area and swabbed his computer keyboard and desk drawers, the floor around the desk and the ceiling overhead. Their actual working investigation took about 45 minutes.”
After this, the press glomed on to any available information about the Stevens’ trip, learned from his wife and others. The oft repeated visit made to Duke University came without details and none subsequently appeared.

 Oct052001 ” (Debora Mackenzie for New Scientist) A 63-year-old resident of Lantana, Florida, developed headache and fever on Sunday while visiting Duke University in North Carolina. Doctors testing for meningitis in Florida found anthrax bacilli in his spinal fluid.  An X-ray revealed an enlarged space under the breastbone. This is unique to the pneumonic form of anthrax, which is almost invariably fatal if antibiotic treatment begins after symptoms start. The US Centers for Disease Control confirmed the diagnosis on Thursday.  “No one has any idea where this came from,” says Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, head of the World Health Organisation’s working group on anthrax.”

On October 16 Lawrence K. Altman of the New York Times, however, published a story somewhat in contradiction to Ms. Mackenzie, in which the CDC investigators concurred: “Inhalation anthrax produces swollen lymph nodes in the mediastinum, an area between the back of the lungs and the spine. The swelling can show up on an X-ray. Did a radiologist miss the finding? [emphasis added] In all their work, the epidemiologists ”found nothing that was suspicious,” said Dr. James M. Hughes, a top C.D.C. expert who oversaw the investigation from Atlanta.” …He also wrote “At times, C.D.C. spokesmen have issued puzzling statements and have said they did not have access to information about developments in New York and Florida”

December 5, 2001 … gewanted=1
“…The test results, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency last week, show that anthrax spores spread throughout the three-story office building in Boca Raton that is the headquarters of American Media Inc., a tabloid publisher. Spores ended up not just in the mailroom and on Mr. Stevens’s keyboard, but also in such out-of-the-way places as atop a room divider and computer monitors and in a nook between banks of shelves.
Officials involved in the effort said they were surprised by how far the material had spread. Such findings point to an extremely dangerous kind of anthrax preparation, with small particles that can easily float in the air, officials and experts said.”



REPRISE   “After spending six months bored in retirement, Bob Stevens, a jovial 63-year-old master photo retoucher, had recently returned to his desk at American Media Inc….The editors and writers at AMI took pleasure in the weirdest letters, passing them around for everyone to enjoy.”…

The Letter: “The first fact that must be understood is that at least two letters containing powders were received at the AMI building in Boca Raton shortly before Bob Stevens became ill with inhalation anthrax.  No letter was ever found…  dispute results from the facts obtained via scientific testing which point to a different, second letter as being the source of Bob Stevens’ infection….The other co-worker, a 36-year-old woman [Stephanie Dailey], sorted mail and opened mail addressed to a periodical different from the one to which the index patient contributed. She recalled opening an envelope that released powder in her office on or about September 25. Afterwards, she discarded it in the trash without reading it…”
“Stephanie Dailey was one of three people at AMI who were identified as having been exposed anthrax.  The other two were Bob Stevens and Ernesto Blanco.  This was also mentioned by CNN, Newsweek, and others in the media.”
“The environmental samplings say that the 3rd floor was the least contaminated floor in the AMI building and the 1st floor was the most contaminated floor in the building. Bob Stevens worked on the 3rd Floor.  Stephanie Dailey worked on the 1st floor near the mailroom.”
[>>thirdring adds: EPA testing revealed no anthrax in the first floor air ducts]
“While the full report of what the FBI found in its search is considered “evidence” and is confidential, there is enough that is publicly known to confirm that the anthrax did NOT come from the J-Lo letter.  It came from the letter opened by Stephanie Dailey in her office, which was in or near the first floor mailroom.”
Ed Lake goes on to suggest that Bob Stevens’ exposure could have occurred from retreiving copy paper from the 1st floor:  …”the FBI’s finding that the anthrax was spread around the building by people using copy paper could be a very good explanation for how Stevens became infected.  If he was working late and needed to use the copier, but the copier was out of paper, he would have gone to the mailroom to get more paper.  And he could have been one of the first to be exposed to the spores on the paper.”
thirdring>>but this is predicated on a late stay, alone (?), at the office on Sept. 26. According to the Stevens’s doctor and the accounts of Maureen, Bob was already symptomatic on the 26. The story later changed. Was he coming down with something else going around at AMI? Ernie Blanco was symptomatic too. Martha Moffett was out was pneumonia– were there others? The building had an unusually good security system with “as many as 10 cameras pan for suspicious activity”, so wouldn’t Bob be on-camera going between floors to get supplies? If Stephanie Dailey opened “the” anthrax letter in her mailroom office,  is it logical that she did not develop an infection after using it for two more weeks –sitting, sorting, opening mail, etc.?]
According to Ed Lake,, between October 8 and 10, investigators took 136 samples and got 20 positive results:
10 of 20 from the mailroom tested positive
5 of 6 from Stephanie’s office tested positive
2 of 21 from Bob’s area tested positive [which Ed says is because they went back and did repeat tests]
AMI executives were not barred from the building and are known to have participated in cleanup and ‘shredding’. It was AMI executives who told the public health authorites that other employees were “positive for exposure“.
Ernie Blanco’s case:
–did not feel well on (Monday) Sept. 24, a day before the ‘second’ letter could have been opened. By Friday the 28th, he was too sick to stay at work and a caring security guard drove him home to Miami.
This is the most complete published account detailing what Blanco experienced, from the Palm Beach Post:
[After Bob Stevens death]…Doctors thought he might have anthrax, but they weren’t sure. The family worried Ernie might die before anybody figured it out…
…”A lot of people have heard about his 23 days in the hospital, where he popped in and out of intensive care, FBI agents lingering at his door, a fake name assigned to his bed number to fool the press…
…At the hospital, down the long, rose-colored halls, his stretcher traveled, and he was on it, but not, as he would later say, “with it.”… Down in intensive care, where they put him when things got really bad, agents for the FBI wandered in and out, waiting for the 73-year-old patient to wake up for an interview. He didn’t know much, of course. Didn’t know how this thing happened to him. Couldn’t identify the piece of mail that brought him here, to death’s door, as a nation watched….Blanco, a former law student and accountant in Cuba who fled after Castro took over, is the kind of guy people immediately take to. He is friendly, boyish – even in his 70s…This was Ernie Blanco: A really, really nice, ordinary guy….He first landed at Cedars Medical Center in downtown Miami on Oct. 1, a Monday, at his wife Elda’s urging. He was feverish, exhausted and had a terrible cough. On and off for the past week, he had felt too sick to work. Elda worried he had the West Nile virus…They started him on intravenous drugs, but he did not get better…[Blanco’s doctor] Omenaca thought Blanco had pneumonia, too, but after several days of treatment, “I began to suspect.” It might be something more complicated….And then, on Oct. 4….hospital staffers received an interesting phone call..from Daniel Rotstein, a senior vice president of human resources and administration at American Media Inc…

This is the thing Rotstein wanted to tell Cedars doctors: …Stevens and Blanco worked at the same place – with Rotstein, at American Media…Rotstein didn’t know for sure, but he thought he might be on to something. He had heard the two patients had similar symptoms…”It was Thursday night, maybe 11:30 or almost midnight. I was just trying to get hold of people to make sure they knew about Bob. I asked for the head nurse on his floor. I spoke to somebody there and tried to explain and said call me back. They didn’t. I called again and asked for an infectious disease nurse, and at that point a nurse did call me back.” ….On the night of The Miracle Call, Omenaca, 41, a hard-working doctor who grew up in Spain, rushed back to the hospital to check on his patient. He did not know too much about anthrax – not many people did…He confirmed that Stevens and Blanco worked together, and then, “one minute later,” by intravenous drip, he started his patient on ciprofloxacin. “Cipro.” The anthrax drug.

…Several things happened next. Doctors ordered a nasal swab and flew it to Atlanta, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency in charge of controlling communicable diseases, could examine the sample for any spores that would indicate exposure to anthrax. That was Oct. 5…On Oct. 6, Blanco got worse. His blood pressure plummeted, and he went into shock. He had a high fever and needed a mechanical respirator to breathe. Doctors moved him to intensive care….Now, Omenaca was baffled. Certain important tests that often point to an anthrax diagnosis were turning up negative. For one thing, his blood tested negative for the germ. For another, Blanco lacked what was considered by many to be a classic sign of the disease – a widening of the chest cavity, visible in an X-ray, caused by swollen lymph nodes in the mediastinum, between the breast bone and the spine. Blanco’s X-ray showed no such widening, “so at that point, I said maybe we are dealing with something else,” Omenaca said….the case wasn’t making a lot of sense….and then, on Oct. 7, the nasal swab came back. Positive. Around the hospital, news spread fast…The press was calling. The FBI was down. The CDC was down. The Health Department was down. And Ernie was down.

…Omenaca told the family he now felt certain that Blanco had anthrax. He didn’t yet have all the test results that would confirm it, but it was more than a hunch. The doctors from the CDC, however, weren’t so sure. Over a number of days, they stuck with the pneumonia diagnosis, and that perplexed [daughter] Maria Orth.

…And then, on Oct. 9…Judy Marty, the assistant principal, decided to buy her new car. In she went to finance director [son-in-law] Willie Orth’s office. Judy Marty told Willie Orth about her daughter – Dr. Aileen Marty. She is a Navy commander and an associate professor of emerging infections and pathology with the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. She teaches a year-long course in weapons of mass destruction. She is a member of the Homeland Defense Committee, appointed on Sept. 28 by retired Admiral James Zimble. On anthrax, she is an expert…

Down at Cedars, Blanco..was improving, although doctors worried about the buildup of fluid in his lungs, for which he would eventually need surgery. But the Orths and all of Blanco’s other close family members..worried. They worried that the treatment could get off track if the CDC didn’t commit to the anthrax diagnosis. “Aileen was an angel,” Maria Orth says. “Every decision I made was based on Omenaca and Aileen Marty’s opinion.”  From a distance, the Navy commander counseled the family. She talked to other doctors, and, she says, to the CDC. She had many long conversations with Omenaca, told him about the old anthrax cases she once studied. She faxed him the famous anthrax-monkey studies. She even put Omenaca in touch with Col. Arthur Friedlander, senior military research scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. – and a world expert on anthrax.

…She knew about more than the 18 U.S. cases documented last century. She had studied old cases from around the world, through what is now called the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, which has a warehouse full of old tissue samples for research in Maryland. The old cases had taught her something, she says. An anthrax patient will not necessarily have a widened chest on X-ray. “It’s only typical in 60 percent of the cases. Modern literature talks so heavily about it, but it doesn’t have to happen.”Which could explain Ernie Blanco’s case a bit better….On Oct. 15, the CDC made an announcement. More tests had come back…the diagnosis finally became official: Ernie Blanco had anthrax. Not just the exposure. The disease.”

                                                                                 _____________________  ” The anthrax nightmare that has gripped the nation began on September 19, investigators believe, when mail for the Sun was delivered to Managing Editor Joe West – and he immediately became suspicious of a bulky manila envelope he picked up… The envelope sent to the Sun was addressed: “Please forward to Jennifer Lopez, c/o the Sun.” “When I picked up the envelope, I could feel something cylindrical inside,” West told The ENQUIRER. “Something told me, `Don’t open it! So I tossed it into the garbage.” 

But recently hired news assistant Bobby Bender, whose daughter is a J.Lo. Fan, said, “I want to open it.” He grabbed the envelope from West’s garbage can…

“Bobby Bender came around the corner with this letter in the upturned palms of his hands,” said photo assistant Roz Suss, a 13-year Sun staffer… “It was folded into three sections, and in the middle was a plie of what looked like pink-tinged talcum powder. 

“Sticking out of the powder was a little gold something. I couldn’t tell what…Just then Bob Stevens came walking from his desk…Bob walked back to his desk and sat down, holding the letter in his cupped palms over the keyboard of his computer…He was peering down for several seconds into the letter and the powder ant the gold thing sticking out,” Suss added.   

“I heard him say, `Gee, it looks like a Jewish star.’.. “I reached from behind Bob and picked it out of the powder with two fingers. Sure enough, it was a little Star of David with a little loop for a string or chain. I threw it into the trash and walked away”…  Said Suss:… “When I think about it, I feel sick. I put my fingers in that powder!”   “The letter is handled both by Ernesto Blanco, who later contracts anthrax, and Bob Stevens, who later dies of anthrax. It is unknown what the return address was or what date it was postmarked, since its importance is only realized after it has been thrown away and people start getting sick. As a result, the FBI is never able to analyze it. (Contreras, Isikoff, and Fineman 10/8/2001; National Inquirer 10/31/2001) However, others exposed to the letter, including Bobby Bender, the person who actually opens it, do not get sick later. (National Inquirer 10/31/2001) Furthermore, the floor where the letter is opened and passed around will later turn out to be the least infected floor of the building, suggesting that the letter contained no real anthrax.”
–3rd floor of AMI least contaminated –check!
–J-Lo letter had no anthrax –check!
–no anthrax in the first floor air ducts –check!



Bob Stevens Case:

Bob was taken by his wife to the JFK Medical Center, adjacent to Lantana Airport (aka Palm Beach County Park Airport or West Palm Beach Air Park)
“JFK Medical Center is a non-profit acute care hospital….The facility is accredited and provides emergency services….When compared to state levels, heart failure patients at this facility are more likely to be given discharge instructions… When compared to other hospitals in the state, pneumonia patients..are less likely to be given initial antibiotics with[in] 4 hours of arrival”
[thirdring>> JFK Medical was owned by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), founded and owned by the Frist family as a for-profit hospital manager. HCA controlled approx. 180 hospitals in the U.S. and 3  near Palm Beach. ]
Palm Beach County hospitals; list of 15 facilities includes state TB hospital and the Veteran’s Administration  [by Sean Flynn, Esquire Magazine, 2003] “In October 2001, a sixty-three-year old man staggered into a Florida hospital with a case of what appeared to be bacterial meningitis. It wasn’t….
He’s isolated in room 27, a cramped rectangle just off the emergency room at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis…He showed up with his wife, Maureen, just after two o’clock that morning, Tuesday, October 2, 2001, fevered and barely coherent but still able to walk. He’d been achy for a couple days, lethargic, running a mild temperature. Nothing serious, nothing that kept him from driving all the way home from North Carolina the day before, Charlotte to Lantana, ten hours if he didn’t stop, which he didn’t. He was home by five, in bed by eight, with a temperature of 101. Five hours after that, around one, he was vomiting in the bathroom, so Maureen packed him into the car and drove him to JFK. He was there for a few hours before having a massive seizure, which is why he’s now in room 27 with a machine doing his breathing for him.
    The night-shift doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him, not exactly. His chest X ray was funky, showing a murky cloud between his lungs and swelling in the tissues called the mediastinum. His spinal fluid was a mess, too. In a healthy man, it’s clear and clean like water. Bob’s was milky white, polluted, angry-looking. The preliminary diagnosis was some kind of aggressive meningitis.
   That’s why Larry Bush is called in. He’s the chief of staff at JFK and a specialist in infectious diseases…He suspects bacterial meningitis, too. Serious, yes, but treatable and not uncommon: JFK gets a couple cases a month….But it’s the shape of the bacteria that scares Larry Bush. They’re long and slender, like sausages stained purple, and linked together in jumbled chains-the distinctive profile of the Bacillus genus. Except bacilli shouldn’t be floating in anyone’s spinal fluid….Larry’s never seen anything like this before. Fourteen years at JFK, four thousand consultations each year in the ER alone never once has a similar colony of bacilli glowed under his microscope…The bacteria are just lying there, inert, like miniature boxcars toppled off invisible rails. Subtilis and cereus squirm and crawl and swim. These aren’t moving at all. And that’s when Larry realizes there is only one potential suspect left: Bacillus anthracis. It’s the only thing that fits…
It would be an act of war, of course, or the work of a sophisticated pack of terrorists, because anthrax is not a viable weapon for the lone nut…”  ..”Dr. Larry M. Bush, who treated Mr. Stevens, the man who died of inhalation anthrax in Florida, said his patient might never have developed inhalation anthrax had he followed his wife’s advice to seek medical attention when he first developed symptoms about Sept. 26, instead of waiting until Oct. 2.  If Mr. Stevens had sought help earlier, a doctor would have realized he had a respiratory infection but would probably not have considered anthrax. Nevertheless, an antiobiotic prescribed for a respiratory infection would probably have successfully treated his inhalation anthrax, Dr. Bush said in an interview.”…

The Esquire article by Sean Flynn includes: “Maureen tells Jean [Malecki of the health dept] that her husband seemed fine a week ago, on Wednesday, September 26. The next morning, at seven o’clock, they left home and started driving north on Interstate 95 toward Charlotte, where their daughter Casey lives.”

Researcher Ed Lake adds: “We also know that Bob Stevens worked very late on Wednesday, September 26, the day before he left for a vacation in North Carolina.  Working late could have tired him, which would also weaken his immune system.”

–that’s a stretch but regardless, no contamination was found in his home, anywhere:

“At 3:55 p.m. on Friday [Oct5], Stevens’ heart stopped. Investigators sealed Stevens’ home with yellow crime-scene tape and carted off clothes and other belongings in red biohazard bags. His home would prove a dead end, but they soon found anthrax spores in the AMI mailroom and on the keyboard of Stevens’ computer”  “Mr. Blanco, his co-worker, is recovering at Cedars Medical Center in Miami after leaving an intensive care unit, where his breathing had been assisted by a mechanical respirator….  Anthrax was not suspected when Mr. Blanco, who suffered from chronic lung disease, was admitted to Cedars for pneumonia on Oct. 1. The underlying lung disease might have made him more susceptible to inhalation anthrax. Because he worked at American Media, a swab of his nose was taken [but not before Oct 7], and it showed anthrax spores. He did not show classic symptoms of inhalation anthrax, which suggests that doctors may need to modify their description of the condition, and his case was re-classified as ”atypical inhalation anthrax.” The change was based on laboratory tests that showed evidence of Bacillus anthracis in bloody fluid in the sac covering his lungs.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has omitted some information about Mr. Blanco’s case of a type usually included in its weekly reports. Nevertheless, Mr. Blanco’s improvement and Mr. Richmond’s potential recovery raise intriguing questions about survival from inhalation anthrax, which textbooks and scientific articles describe as nearly always fatal.”…


“On Set. 28 [Ernesto Blanco] couldn’t face the afternoon mail run. A worried security guard drove him all the way back to North Miami….[Oct 1] Doctors thought Blanco had pneumonia and started intravenous antibiotics….Tests by the [CDC] didn’t confirm anthrax until Oct.15”
 “By October 10, Stephanie Dailey at AMI had had her nasal passages swabbed and tested for anthrax. She tested positive. With three people at AMI showing exposure to anthrax, there was no longer any doubt that it wasn’t from natural causes. The AMI building was shut down. Panic ensued. Thousands were tested, antibiotics were distributed. But that was it. There were no more anthrax cases in Florida.” [Ed Lake]

–the building was closed as of 4 p.m. Sunday the 7th. The available chronology suggests Ernesto Blanco then got his swab test. Would the health dept. test other mailroom personnel first? Was Stephanie Dailey at the front of the line on Monday morning?

According to this NYTimes news story, written by Lawrence K. Altman and published Oct. 23, “of the 18 cases of inhalation anthrax that had been reported in the United States since 1900 until this month, 16 were fatal”. Mr. Blanco and Richmond were the only recorded survivors. Mr. Richmond filed a lawsuit. Other inhalation survivors were reported, however, including David R. Hose from the State Dept.’s mail facility and an unidentified man said to be from the Brentwood Rd. (in Washington D.C.) post office. This research has, as yet, found no trace of the identity or whereabouts of this unidentified postal worker. Brentwood employed approximately 2,000 people at the time. The unidentified man checked himself into Inova Fairfax Hospital on Oct. 22, the same day the second and last Brentwood fatality occurred.
Oct 1 –AMI coworker Ernesto Blanco is hospitalized at Cedar Medical Center in Miami for pneumonia; Blanco has chronic respiratory disease. Overnight, at 2am on the 2cd, Bob Stevens checked into JFK Medical…
     —  ”The woman at CBS developed cutaneous anthrax, the most treatable form of the disease, on her cheek on Oct. 1.”….”Dr. Richard P. Fried told the city health department on Oct. 1 that a patient might have anthrax.”
Oct 2 — at 2am, Maureen Stevens drove her husband to the hospital. …”the patient himself was unable to communicate — he was in a coma when he arrived at the hospital in Atlantis, Fla., and died without regaining consciousness. So health workers had to interview his wife and family to reconstruct what he did during the preceding two weeks. Where did the Stevenses stop, eat and sleep on the trip? Was he exposed to a sick animal? Goat hair?…others looked at the more ominous possibility: that Mr. Stevens was the victim of an organized anthrax attack…In all their work, the epidemiologists ”found nothing that was suspicious,” said Dr. James M. Hughes, a top C.D.C. expert who oversaw the investigation from Atlanta….Meanwhile, C.D.C. workers sought advice from Dr. Philip S. Brachman, [see the Fort Detrick page], an expert in anthrax epidemiology and a former director of the Epidemic Intelligence Service…Dr. Brachman said he reviewed his records from his days as an officer with the epidemic service in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, when he investigated anthrax cases that developed among workers exposed to contaminated goat hair and wool at three mills in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. The mills are now closed, but given how long anthrax spores can live in the environment, Dr. Brachman wondered if Mr. Stevens could have contracted the disease in one of the cities where the mills had been.”
–so, here are two accounts: (1) Bob walked in to the hospital and (2) he arrived comatose. With a positive anthrax diagnosis given on Oct 4, why didn’t coworker Ernesto Blanco get ‘swabbed’ on the 4th or 5th? Why did he not get tested until at least the 7th (some reports say later) if he was already in a hospital and his coworker was dying?
Oct 5 –Stevens dies at JFK Medical Center (Lantana, aka Atlantis). Another worker at AMI, chief librarian Martha Moffet, is ‘out’ with pneumonia at the time. It was also published in the New York Times on (Wed.) Oct 17 that ” State health officials also said today that they were testing a summer intern at American Media for exposure to anthrax after he suddenly became ill and was hospitalized on Sunday [the 14th] with flulike symptoms, a high fever and possible pneumonia….”He had a little fever,” said Hank Arizmandi, the student’s father. ‘ They thought the low-grade fever might be attributable to recent dental surgery. Jordan had a nasal swab for anthrax that came back negative. At the hospital, he was also given a blood test for anthrax.’ “

“Although an unusually large team of 15 epidemiologists and laboratory scientists was sent out when the initial anthrax case was reported in Florida on Oct. 4, the investigation started in the traditional mode, with the assumption that the disease had natural causes, Dr. Hughes said.”

Oct. 05, 2001 – “Bob Stevens… Unknown how he became infected” … tacks.html
Other reports ran stories that Bob had been in North Carolina, visiting Duke University on Sept 27 or Sept 30 and left because he didn’t feel well… Although the medical confirmation of anthrax infection came on Tuesday Oct.2, no investigation was initiated until Stevens died.


The account of AMI newspaper archivist Maria Peters indicates that the building housed the only collection of backissues known to exist –from the 1950s forward; hardcopies of the National Enquirer, Star, Globe, Sun, etc– which were in the process of transcription to computer files for which employees had no back-up.
A secondhand account is given about what happened inside the AMI offices  describing the recollection of Maria Peters.

Oct 9 — ” ‘The evidence is stacking up that indicates it is not environmental’ said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the [CDC] in Atlanta Georgia. Health officials said about 770 people who either worked or spent time in the building have been tested, and there were no indications that anyone else was exposed to anthrax….Law enforcement sources said investigators were unable to match the Sun strain of anthrax with any on record”

>>this early report is in contradiction to the later EPA test results

Oct 10 –”An e-mail message was sent to some staff members saying the chairman of the company had anthrax symptoms. But Mr. Pecker said he was fine. Steve Coz, the editor of The National Enquirer, said no one had reported being ill today, but reporters and editors were skeptical.  ”We’re working out of our houses today and so we’re not hearing much,’ one reporter said. ‘ But there is crime-scene tape around the building. And we feel generally paranoid, like, What does the F.B.I. really know? And it’s employees turning on employees and pointing fingers.’ ”

Oct 12 –”At an afternoon news conference in Florida, FBI special agent Hector Pesquera said test results of 965 people who were in the building recently have found no new infections. A few test results were still pending.”


Nov 28  “..the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., tells the Associated Press they can now compare the terrorism strain of anthrax to the standard laboratory Ames strain. The private laboratory is working under a $200,000 contract from the National Science Foundation to sequence genes from a strain of anthrax recovered from Florida resident Robert Stevens, 63, who died as a result of inhaling anthrax spores, probably from a letter mailed to his office.”


Maureen Stevens Lawsuit  “According to the FBI report, a mentally disturbed — possibly deranged — scientist released the deadly substance as a sick way of testing a vaccine he was working on, or as a way to show how important his research was….

In 2003, Mr. Stevens’ widow and her children sued, charging that the government had failed to keep the anthax secure. Despite strong government resistance, the suit moved ahead. In 2008, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Mrs. Stevens had met the standard for a wrongfiul death lawsuit. Depositions are to begin next week. A trial would be in West Palm Beach before U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley.

We agree, however, with Mrs. Stevens’ West Palm Beach attorney that the government made his case for him. “First,” Richard Schuler said, “the report shows how lax the security at Fort Detrick was — if there was security at all.” One guard, for example, patrolled several buildings. Security was lightest between 6 p.m. and midnight, when Ivins was in the lab weaponizing the anthrax…..Did Ivins act alone? Mr. Schuler believes so.”

Richard D. Schuler  “My first job was with an old-time real estate and probate firm, but I found that was not my cup of tea,” he said. “Then I was hired by Bob Montgomery.”…After 4  1/2 years, Schuler started his own firm, now known as Schuler, Halvorson & Weisser….”I’ve represented everything from captains of industry to people who are down on their luck and didn’t have a job,” he said. “Everybody has a different story to tell.”

Lawyer Schuler:  “One of the real areas of satisfaction, if you can call it that, is that we’ve maintained all along this was an inside job” …[her son-in-law Hogan said] “I’m just very happy that they actually found somebody.”
…One court document contends that even if a U.S. employee is found responsible for the anthrax attacks, those acts are “beyond the scope of employment” and the government isn’t liable….so it shouldn’t have to pay the Stevens family….

The government lawyers took the position that anthrax had never been used as a ‘terror’ weapon: … 5301_x.htm
“Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Bucholtz and Batelle lawyer Tami Lyn Azorsky argued there’s no way their clients could foresee the material would be used as a terror weapon because it had never happened before….
The lawsuit claims the strain of anthrax that killed Stevens was traced to the Army’s Research Institute for Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md….The suit also claims the government and Batelle are negligent because they failed to keep it secured”

“Judge Urges Settlement In ‘National Enquirer’ Anthrax Case”  (Palm Beach Post, 4/15/2009)

“WEST PALM BEACH, FL — Maureen Stevens may have to wait until 2011 for justice in the 2001 anthrax attack that killed her husband who worked as a photo editor for the Boca Raton-based publisher of the National Enquirer. 

In a hearing this morning, her attorneys and lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice agreed that January 2011 was a good target date for Stevens’ lawsuit against the federal government to go to trial. Stevens is seeking $50 million, claiming the government failed to secure the deadly agent, allowing it to be used to kill her husband, Robert, in the wake of the 2001 terrorist strike.”


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