The state's top federal prosecutor announced today that her office will review its investigation of the December 1993 attempted mail bombing of a Harvard Medical School professor, now that a woman once considered a suspect in the case is accused of killing three people during a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who was appointed to her post in November, said today in a statement that she has ordered a review to make sure that "all appropriate steps'' were taken at the time of the original investigation.
"While it would be inconsistent with our legal obligations to release all information related to this incident, we have commenced a thorough review of the information related to this incident to confirm that all appropriate steps were taken in that matter, and to determine whether information related to this incident may be of assistance to other law enforcement agencies,'' the statement said.
A spokesman for Huntsville police said detectives investigating the shootings at the University of Alabama would welcome any insights that a review of the 1993 attempted bombing could provide.
"We would be grateful for any help we can get from any source," Sergeant Mark Roberts said today.
The announcement came two days after the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives released files to the Globe detailing why investigators focused on Amy Bishop, who is charged with the Alabama slayings, and her husband, Jimmy E. Anderson Jr., after a package containing two pipe bombs was sent to the Newton home of Dr. Paul Rosenberg.
The couple were never charged with the attempted bombing, which remains unsolved.
In a telephone interview today, Anderson's father, Jim Anderson, Sr., said he welcomed Ortiz's decision. "That's a very proactive statement. I take that on a positive note,'' he said. "Because I think they went after the wrong people.''
Rosenberg, who could not immediately be reached for comment today, issued a statement last week expressing his condolences to victims of the Alabama shootings and calling for a "thorough (sic) investigation into this recent crime, so that no one else will be victimized by such senseless violence."
After returning from vacation with his wife on Dec. 19, 1993, Rosenberg was opening a package that had been brought in with the mail and addressed to him when he saw wires and a cylinder inside. He and his wife fled the house and called police. The package contained two pipe bombs.
The ATF files revealed that Rosenberg, a Harvard Medical School professor and doctor at Children's Hospital in Boston, told investigators that weeks before the attempted bombing he played a role in Bishop's resignation from her job as a post-doctoral research fellow in the hospital's neurobiology lab because "he felt she could not meet the standards required for the work.''
Rosenberg said he feared Bishop "was not stable'' and that her co-workers had growing concerns because she had "exhibited violent behavior.''
The files reveal that a witness told investigators that Anderson "wanted to get back at" Rosenberg by shooting, bombing, stabbing, or strangling him. Nothing in the files indicated whether investigators found the unidentified witness credible.
The Huntsville Times reported today that Anderson said the allegations in the ATF files "are based on an unconfirmed witness.''
The names of Bishop and Anderson are blacked out in most of the files, but three people familiar with the investigation have confirmed on condition of anonymity that the documents refer to the couple.
In one document provided to the Globe, Andersen's name is not redacted, and he's identified as the person who allegedly told the witness in 1993 that he wanted to "shoot him, bomb him, stab him or strangle Rosenberg.''
In the interview with the Globe today, Anderson's father heaped scorn on that allegation.
"The comments are out of character first because he's an Eagle Scout, first because I think he's almost a pacifist. It would be totally out of character for him to ever make a statement [like] that,'' the elder Anderson said.
He added, "He's 45 years old, and I've never heard him use the word 'strangle' in his life. I've never heard him use the word 'stab' anything in his life. He's a lover of nature. He's not a person who would harm anybody. So that was out of character -- that's what makes it ludicrous to even consider that as a viable statement. It's just 100 percent ludicrous."
On Monday, former US attorney Donald K . Stern, who presided over the office when prosecutors oversaw the attempted mail bombing investigation, said the case should be reviewed, following Bishop's arrest Feb. 12 for allegedly shooting three colleagues and wounding three more during a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama at Huntsville over a decision to deny her tenure.
Stern said he believed the investigation was thorough and professional, but noted, "There's a reason to take a fresh look because you want to make sure things were done properly."
Separately, Governor Deval Patrick has ordered State Police to review their handling of the 1986 investigation into Amy Bishop's killing of her brother, Seth, with their father's shotgun.
The incident was ruled an accident, but law enforcement officials involved in the case at the time now say information was not shared between investigating agencies.
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