Letter sent to senator laced with fatal poison

By Donna Cassata

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 16 2013 10:59 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2009, file photo Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Reid said Tuesday, April 16, 2013, that letter with ricin or another poison was sent to Wicker. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

J. Scott Applewhite, ap

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — An envelope addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi twice tested positive Tuesday for ricin, a potentially fatal poison, congressional officials said, heightening concerns about terrorism a day after a bombing killed three and left more than 170 injured at the Boston Marathon.

One senator, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, said authorities have a suspect in the fast-moving ricin case, but she did not say if an arrest had been made. She added the letter was from an individual who frequently writes lawmakers.

On Tuesday night, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said initial field tests on the substance produced mixed results and that it is in the process of undergoing further analysis at an accredited laboratory. Only after that testing can a determination be made about whether the substance is ricin, Bresson said.

Late Tuesday, Wicker released a statement acknowledging the letter and said it was sent to his Washington office.

"This matter is part of an ongoing investigation by the United States Capitol Police and FBI," Wicker said. "I want to thank our law enforcement officials for their hard work and diligence in keeping those of us who work in the Capitol complex safe."

Terrance W. Gainer, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, said in an emailed message to Senate offices that the envelope to Wicker, a Republican, had no obviously suspicious outside markings and lacked a return address. It bore a postmark from Memphis, Tenn. Gainer said there was "no indication that there are other suspect mailings."

Wicker, 61, was appointed to the Senate in 2007 and won election to a full term two years ago. He previously served a dozen years in the House.

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