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Envelopes containing powder sent to schools in Dedham and Milford

Posted by Natalie Feulner  March 6, 2012 05:11 PM

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An envelope containing a letter and white powder was opened by a Dedham Middle School secretary Tuesday afternoon, just hours after a similar package was received at an elementary school in Milford, authorities said.

No injuries were reported, and both envelopes were taken to the state fire marshal’s office for testing.

In Dedham, Fire Chief William Cullinane said that as soon as the school employee realized the envelope contained powder, she notified officials and did not move the item.

“The letter remained isolated and contained, as did the person who opened it,” Cullinane said.

A preliminary investigation into the powder proved “inconclusive,” so the package was sent for additional tests, he said, adding firefighters did not believe there was ever any danger to students or staff at the school.

Definitive results on the tests are expected from the state fire marshal within the next 48 hours.

Cullinane and Fire Marshal Stephen Coan declined to describe the letter or the envelope, beyond that it was business-sized. They would not say whether the package, discovered around 1:30 p.m., was linked to the other envelope received at the elementary school in Milford Tuesday morning. Coan said that envelope also contained powder.

Milford police Sergeant Michael Jones said Tuesday evening that the powder has been identified as corn starch. He said the white envelope containing the substance was found near the principal's office at Memorial Elementary School at about 11 a.m., and did not leave the office where it was opened. Parents were notified about the incident via a reverse-911 call, he said.

At Dedham Middle School, students remained in their classrooms until about 2:30 p.m., then quickly filed past a handful of reporters and numerous fire trucks and police officers to their waiting buses.

A number of them took out cellphones and began taking photos of what was happening and asking questions of principal Deb Gately, who told them that there was never any danger and that the law enforcement presence was all procedural.

An e-mail about the incident was sent to parents, and the school remained open as a polling station to residents voting in the presidential primary election.

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@gmail.com.

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