Federal law enforcement officials did not send Amy Bishop and her husband a letter telling them they were cleared in the 1993 mail bombing investigation of a Harvard Medical School professor, an official said today, contradicting statements Bishop's husband has made to the media since his wife was charged in an Alabama shooting rampage.
"No letter was ever sent,'' said the law enforcement official, who is not authorized to speak publicly on the case.
Bishop's husband, James E. Anderson, has acknowledged the couple were both questioned by federal investigators after a package containing two pipe bombs was sent to the Newton home of the professor, Dr. Paul Rosenberg, who was also a physician at Children's Hospital Boston.
Bishop had worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the hospital's neurobiology lab under the supervision of Rosenberg and another doctor and left that job several weeks before the attempted bombing, the hospital has acknowledged.
Anderson told the Globe recently that he and his wife had been questioned in the attempted mail bombing. He said neither of them was a suspect, but rather, they were "subjects'' of the investigation.
It was "just a matter of questioning, being bothered, harassed. You know the usual techniques, that's all,'' Anderson told the Globe.
Anderson also told The New York Times that the lead investigative agency, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, notified the couple in writing that their role in the investigation had ended. The agency is often known by the acronym, ATF.
"In my files I have a letter from the ATF saying, 'You are hereby cleared in this incident. You are no longer a subject of the investigation.''' Anderson told the Times.
Anderson didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment today.
Rosenberg had just returned home from a Caribbean vacation with his wife on Dec. 19, 1993 when he was opening a package addressed to "Mr. Paul Rosenberg M.D." that had been brought inside with the rest of the mail by his cat-sitter. When he saw wires and a cylinder inside, he and his wife fled the house and called police.
At the time, police said the bomb would have exploded and killed Rosenberg and anyone in the vicinity if he had opened the end flaps of the package. They said the bombs didn't detonate because Rosenberg had opened the package by cutting around the top of it with a knife.
During the 1990s the so-called Unabomber, who sent bombs to university professors, airline officials, computer scientists and other targets, was also the target of a massive FBI-led investigation.
In December 1993, the Globe reported that Terence McArdle, who was then special agent in charge of the ATF's New England office, said the investigation pointed away from the Unabomber because there were no structural similarities between the bomb sent to Rosenberg and the sophisticated devices recovered from incidents attributed to the Unabomber.
The Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, was arrested in Montana in 1996 and later pleaded guilty to 16 mail bombings between 1978 and 1995 that killed three people and injured 23.
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