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Letter processed in New Jersey tracked to Bronx address

By Kevin Bohn
CNN Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A letter delivered to a New York City address near the home of a hospital worker who died of inhalation anthrax went through a New Jersey mail sorter at about the same time the machine processed two anthrax-laced letter sent to two Senate offices, the Postal Service said Monday.

That discovery could shed light on one of the most baffling anthrax cases since contaminated missives began turning up in the mail in early October.

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But investigators have not found the letter, which could hold a clue as to how Kathy Nguyen, 61, contracted the deadly form of anthrax. Authorities believe the letter was sent to an address about a block and a half from Nguyen's home.

During the weekend, investigators went to two different address in the Bronx because it was not clear which address it was meant for -- either 1205 or 1207 Whitlock Avenue. Investigators spoke to the businesses at those addresses, and no one remembered a Trenton-postmarked letter and no letter was found, according to Postal Service spokesman Dan Milhalko.

An anthrax-laden letter sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, went through the sorter at 5:27 p.m. on October 9, and a similar letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle letter was processed at 5:47 p.m.

Connecticut officials announced Friday that an envelope sent to a Seymour, Connecticut address-- about a mile from the home of an elderly widow who died of inhalation anthrax -- had a trace of anthrax on it. That Connecticut letter was also processed on October 9 at the New Jersey postal facility.

The timing and the New Jersey connection bolsters the theory that both Nguyen and 94-year-old Ottilie Lundgren contracted anthrax through mail that had been cross contaminated. The two women had no connection to government or news media outlets, which have been a factor in the 16 other anthrax infection cases.

Milhalko said there has been no decision on whether postal officials will contact the recipients of the other letters that went through the mail stream around the time of the Daschle and Leahy letters, saying he is "not sure of the investigative value" of doing that.

He said that tracing these letters after they left the Hamilton Township facility near Trenton, New Jersey, is not providing any further clues to the baffling circumstances of how Lundgren and Nguyen contracted inhalation anthrax. After exhaustive tests, no positive findings of anthrax have been found in any location directly related to either victim.

Postal officials seem to be casting doubt on the belief that Lundgren may have been infected by a letter that was infected by the Seymour, Connecticut, letter -- so-called triple cross contamination.


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