FBI searches apartment in ricin letter case

In this photo released by Everett Dutschke, Authorities set up their equipment Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Tupelo, Miss., as they search Everett Dutschke home. The Mississippi man charged with sending poisoned letters to President Barack Obama and others was released from jail Tuesday without explanation, while FBI agents returned to another man's house where they'd previously searched in connection with the case. (Everett Dutschke said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that the FBI was at his home Tuesday for a search related to the mailing of the poisoned letters to Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge. Dutschke said his house was also searched last week. (AP Photo/Everett Dutschke)
In this photo released by Everett Dutschke, Authorities set up their equipment Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Tupelo, Miss., as they search Everett Dutschke home. The Mississippi man charged with sending poisoned letters to President Barack Obama and others was released from jail Tuesday without explanation, while FBI agents returned to another man's house where they'd previously searched in connection with the case. (Everett Dutschke said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that the FBI was at his home Tuesday for a search related to the mailing of the poisoned letters to Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge. Dutschke said his house was also searched last week. (AP Photo/Everett Dutschke)

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Authorities in hazardous materials suits searched a downtown Spokane apartment Saturday, investigating the recent discovery of a pair of letters containing the deadly poison ricin.

Few details have been released in the case, and no arrests have been made. Federal investigators have been searching for the person who sent the letters, which were postmarked Tuesday in Spokane.

The letters were addressed to the downtown post office and the adjacent federal building, but authorities have not released a potential motive. They also have not said whether the letters targeted anyone in particular.

Ricin is a highly toxic substance made from castor beans. As little as 500 micrograms, the size of the head of a pin, can kill an adult if inhaled or ingested.

There have been no reports of illness connected to the letters.

FBI agents, Spokane police and U.S. Postal Service inspectors descended on the three-story apartment building Saturday morning and the investigation continued into the afternoon.

FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich would not say whether agents were questioning anyone in connection with the case.

“We are not actively looking for a subject,” Sandalo Dietrich said. “We are not asking the public’s help in bringing someone in.”

Despite the hazmat suits, officials said apartment residents were not at risk, and people were seen coming in and out of the brick building in the city’s historic Browne’s Addition neighborhood.

“There’s no public risk,” Sandalo Dietrich said.

Sandalo Dietrich would not say specifically why the FBI was searching the apartment.

“Information we developed led us to believe this was a productive spot to search,” she said.

Two letters containing the substance were intercepted at the downtown Spokane post office Tuesday.

The Postal Service has received no other reports of similar letters, said Jeremy Leder of the Postal Inspection Service on Saturday.

In a statement following the discovery, the Postal Service said the “crude form of the ricin suggests that it does not present a health risk to U.S. Postal Service personnel or to others who may have come in contact with the letter.”

The Spokane investigation comes a month after letters containing ricin were addressed to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge. A Mississippi man has been arrested in that case.

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