The FBI is now leading the investigation into two threatening letters found at the homes of high-ranking SRS officials. And late Tuesday health officials determined that the white powder inside those letters was not a hazardous biological agent.
The white powder was tested for Anthrax, Ricin and other biological hazards. All of the tests came back negative. But even though the white powder turned out to be harmless, the crime is still considered very serious.
According to the sheriff’s office incident report, Linda Pedde opened a letter addressed to her husband, Westinghouse Savannah River Company President Bob Pedde. The statement believed to be threatening is blacked out, but the report continues, “As she retrieved the folded paper, white powder spilled out of the paper and onto her clothing.” As a precaution, Linda Pedde spent Thursday afternoon awaiting decontamination, along with two deputies. Her husband stayed in contact via cell phone.
One day after the discovery, a sheriff’s deputy guards the Pedde’s home in the Stevens Point neighborhood, it’s still off-limits. The deputy is also watching over the remains of Tuesday’s decontamination.
It’s back to normal just a half-mile away, where a second suspicious package was found at 440 Cambridge Way. That’s the home of Lawrence Simmons, the President of SRS Contractor Bechtel. According to the incident report, “the letter was found to have no return address and unusual writing displayed.”
“We have no indication that this is going to be a mass mailing or anything like that,” said FBI Agent Ed Reinhold.
But even with just two letters, FBI agent Ed Reinhold says the threat is very serious.
“Because it is a threat and there’s a possible weapons of mass destruction substance, the FBI assumes jurisdiction on these types of investigations,” Reinhold said.
Again, the good news late today, tests show that the white powder that prompted a massive response is not hazardous. They don’t know exactly what the powder is, but say it is not harmful.
So even though it turned out to be harmless, the person or persons who did this are still facing some pretty serious charges. According to the FBI, it’s a serious felony, threatening with a weapon of mass destruction.