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Widow who died of anthrax laid to rest

Probe into baffling case continues



OXFORD, Connecticut (CNN) -- Family and friends of an elderly Connecticut widow who died of anthrax gathered Saturday to say their final farewells, as investigators continued puzzling over how she contracted the deadly illness.

The private funeral for Ottilie Lundgren, 94, who died Wednesday, was held Saturday at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Oxford. The congregation began the service by singing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," and Lundgren's grand-niece offered a poem of remembrance.

Afterward, her pastor, the Rev. Richard Miesel, called Lundgren "a devout person in the life of the church."

"She was a wonderful, kind person," Miesel said. "She was delightful. She loved family. She loved friends. She reveled in people's caring for her and enjoying of her."

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CNN's Brian Palmer say that investigators are treating the death of Ottillie Lundgren, who died of inhalation anthrax, as a criminal act (November 24)

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    He also said that she would probably have expressed "some interest" in the unusual circumstances of her death because she had "enjoyed unusual experiences in her life."

    Lundgren was the latest in a string of 18 confirmed anthrax infections that have resulted in five deaths. Tests showed that the anthrax that killed her was indistinguishable from the anthrax in the other cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    But unlike most of the other victims -- people in Florida, New Jersey, New York City and Washington -- she had no apparent connection to the U.S. Postal Service, government offices or media outlets that have received or processed anthrax-laden letters.

    Only one of the other victims, Kathy Nguyen, a New York hospital worker who died October 31, also lacked any connection to the letters.

    Lundgren's infection is even more mysterious because she lived alone in rural Connecticut, had a limited schedule and didn't travel much.

    Investigators are trying to reconstruct the last weeks of Lundgren's life, looking for the source of the anthrax contamination. They have taken environmental samples at a hair salon frequented by Lundgren, as well as Oxford's town hall, library and a local diner.

    One theory is that she might have been infected through contaminated mail, but Lundgren's home and about two weeks worth of mail found inside have so far tested negative for anthrax, as did tests on a post office and postal distribution center that handled her mail.

    About 400 people in the Oxford area -- including 350 postal workers and people who might have had contact with Lundgren -- have also tested negative for exposure to anthrax, Gov. John Rowland said Friday.

    FBI agents working on the Lundgren case are also comparing notes with agents investigating Nguyen's death, trying to see if there might be any links between the two women. So far they have found no links, said Lisa Bull, an FBI agent in New Haven.

    On Friday night, about 200 people in the Oxford area attended a town meeting at a junior high school in Seymour, where officials from the CDC and state and local health agencies answered questions from worried residents. They also discussed the potentially deadly bacteria and symptoms of infection.

    In another anthrax-related development, the CDC confirmed Friday that a white powdery substance found in a letter sent to a children's hospital in Santiago, Chile, was anthrax. The letter had a Florida return address but was actually postmarked in Zurich, Switzerland, according to the Chilean Health Ministry.

    The Santiago letter is the first outside the United States to be confirmed as containing anthrax. Suspicious letters found in Bahamas, Kenya, Pakistan and Venezuela all tested negative for anthrax.

    Thirteen people who were in the vicinity when the letter was opened have been placed on a course of antibiotics, the Chilean health ministry said.



     
     
     
     



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