“The Lady Next Door”…Whose Life Ended By Anthrax

  • Imagine….living in a town so small…that the post office is located in a barbershop;
  • Imagine… living through two world wars, the polio epidemic, the Great Depression and 9-11;
  • Imagine being a career-minded women when it wasn’t expected in the 1920’s, 1930’s and1940s working initially at a law firm followed by the Connecticut Unemployment Commission Office;
  • Imagine… falling in love with the boss in your 50’s and marrying him;

And that’s only part of the story…

Anthrax, Ottilie Lundgren, Shattered LIves, Donna R. GoreOttlie Lungren, age 94 at her death, of Oxford, Connecticut (population 9,800 people). This woman was fiercely private, meticulous and seemingly enjoyed a quiet life consisting of avid reading, cruise travel liking fashionable clothing, poetry writing and church activities. Her work ethic was described as “…an incredible woman, bright, articulate organized and amazingly good at her job.”

Certain qualities stood out about her… Prior to her marriage, she was so private that she refused to enter any future plans in her school yearbook. A friend states, although she was unusually kind, “Her business was her business and if she wanted you to know something, she’d tell you.” Ottlie loved children (But had no children of her own). She willingly supported friends who were grieving, saying, “If you need to cry, I’ll cry with you. I know what you’re going through.”

Ottlie was referring to her unwavering love and tender loving care for her former boss turned husband, who had multiple sclerosis. He became increasingly debilitated…using canes and then crutches and progressively was barely able to walk. Ottlie sat in the lobby reading a book and attended to his needs so that he could continue to work. Relatives said, “They didn’t waste words… they were both private, but madly in love. You could tell.”

No one had any idea they were dating until they announced plans to marry!

At age 70, after her husband died, there was a turning point in Ottlie’s life…. She pursued swimming at the YMCA and new friendships for lunches and dinners.

Mrs. Lungren had consistently tornher junk mail in half prior to disposal… The fact that she was “a pioneer woman” of her era is in stark contrast to dying of inhalation anthrax (initially diagnosed as pneumonia).

One theory of the 2001 event concerned how a lone 94 year old Connecticut resident fell prey to such a death. That theory was cross- contamination of postal machines handling her regular mail and bulk mail passing through the postal center in Trenton, New Jersey crossing with highly contaminated mail meant for Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.

Mode of Spread

  • as weapon Contagious Incubation
  • period Symptoms Vaccine Treatment
  • Aerosol No Within 7 days Fever, malaise, fatigue, occasional cough and chest discomfort evolving into severe respiratory distress Yes, but not for the public. Used only by the military Antibiotics, if administered prior to symptom onset
  • Expert opinion: “It is deadly.  It’s one of a few pathogens that form spores that are hardy and resistant to environmental stresses.”
  • – Ramond Zillnskas, Senior scientist at the Monterey Institute of International studies.

Historical Overview of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks:

  • Just the facts…as reported by multiple sources:
  • “Ameritrax”: Was the FBI Investigation Case Name;
  • The case continued from Tuesday, September 18, 2001 (one week after 9-11) through the end of the formal FBI investigation officially closed on February 19, 2010;
  • Targets consisted of several media personalities, U.S. Senators. “Unintended deaths” included “ordinary citizens” such as 94 year old Ottlie Lungren, postal workers, a Vietnamese immigrant and Washington D. C. residents;
  • Suspects included a bio-weapons expert who was exonerated (Steven Hatfill) and a bio defense lab employee of Fredericks, Maryland (Bruce Edward Ivans)’
  • The FBI considered Ivans a “serious suspect” but more indirect evidence played a role with this suspect. He took “an intentional overdose” of acetaminophen, dying two days later …;
  • Letters addressed to Senators Leahy and Daschle contained material the texture of refined powder with approximately one gram of “pure spores.” Whereas… Letters sent to news organizations consisted of coarse brown material causing skin infections;
  • A minimum of 22 people developed anthrax infections – many inhaling it with 5 confirmed deaths;
  • Some messages contained implied “hidden codes” such as selected letters bolded or highlighted letters and incorrect return addresses;
  • Much controversy still exists regarding the chemical makeup, origin and identity of the “controlling factors”;
  • The scope of the investigation was massive covering six continents, 9,000 + interviews, hundreds of FBI personnel and 67 searches;
  • It was often compared in scope matched only to the investigation of the Unabomber attacks spanning from 1978 through 1995;
  • https://donnagore.com/2012/05/31/the-unabomber-the-world-was-his-target-practice/
  • The Blame Game… Many theories continue to circulate….Al-Qaeda; Iraq; a” rogue CIA agent” such as Steven Jay Hatfill;

Was the FBI correct in their conclusions? Some say “No.” A brief except follows:

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Friday, February 19, 2010
Justice Department and FBI Announce Formal Conclusion of Investigation into 2001 Anthrax
Earlier today, representatives of the FBI and Justice Department provided a 92-page investigative summary along with attachments to victims of the attacks, relatives of the victims and appropriate committees of Congress. This document sets forth a summary of the evidence developed in the “Amerithrax” investigation, the largest investigation into a bio-weapons attack in U.S. history. As disclosed previously, the Amerithrax investigation found that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins acted alone in planning and executing these attacks.

The investigative summary and the attachments are now accessible to the public and have been posted to the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/amerithrax under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, roughly 2,700 pages of FBI documents related to the Amerithrax case are now accessible to the public and have been posted to the FBI website at http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/amerithrax.htm under the Freedom of Information Act.

Ottilie Lundgren, Shattered LIves, Anthrax, Donna R. Gore
Returning to Ottlie Lungren…
Ottlie Lungren was a generous but extremely private individual her entire life…. The fact that there were hoards people examining her every move and possession following her death would have sent her into a tizzy, no doubt about it!

The Questions of How and Why?
Ottlie was of advanced age…She had a habit of tearing her junk mail in half in a meticulous manner (not unlike Ladyjustice…Yikes!). Even our former Governor, John G. Rowland, (Governor of Connecticut at the time) http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/February/10-nsd-166.html recently speculated on his radio show that that she may have held her mail close to her face in order to see the print…and thereby inhaled the anthrax on her mail. With probable deteriorating vision at age 94, this would seem like a likely scenario…essentially creating “the perfect storm”.

Connecticut’s state epidemiologist (expert dealing with the detection and sources of disease in large populations) Dr. James Hadley, advised during the height of the crisis to “open your mail gingerly.”
If only…. May you rest in peace, Ottlie!



“There’s Something Wrong Here”… The Legend of Dr. Henry C. Lee


Dr. Henry C. Lee

“I always go in with an open mind… I don’t even believe what the police tell me.  They always try to tell you a story.  I let the evidence speak for itself; otherwise, you can overlook exculpatory evidence.”

(Quote Dr. Henry C. Lee – September 2010)

Crime based TV shows and crime scene investigation dramas are so engrained into our collective psyches these days, that we accept them as reality.  But in truth, they represent a severe breach with reality, a distortion of time that is totally nonsensical.

We are well aware from listening to the real life commentaries of Susan Murphy Milano, Denny Griffin and Vito Collucci of Crime-Wire, that actual crime cases are not so neat and tidy.  Crime is not investigated one case at a time; a murder trial is not solved in an hour as portrayed on Law and Order.  Real hysterical, but remorseful defendants do not abruptly stand and confess at the end of the trial, as they did on episodes of “Perry Mason”.  (Ahhh…. childhood memories.  Even then I was fascinated by the motivations of crime).  And, heaven help us, DNA samples are very, very seldom sent for immediate processing after the request rolls off a police officer’s lips…..

So, why do we expect such unrealistic standards in real life?  Some may say, TV and movie land has brainwashed us and heightened our expectations beyond all reasonableness.  My theory is that it has something to do with the rapid growth in forensic science and technology combined with the lengthy examination and processing time required for all such tests.  These realities, can never match with the relatively limited attention spans of the average viewer.

Therefore the entertainment industry is compelled to speed it up, keep it exciting, “Presto Chango”- here are your results on a silver platter.  The TV audience barely has enough time to go into the kitchen and get a snack before the DNA results are ready! Who cares if a few corners are cut in the name of flash and gimmicks – It’s TV.  All of the survivors of crime care, as well as the crime victims to be – that’s who!  False expectations are dangerous!

Who is there to dispel the myths of crime as entertainment?  Enter, center stage, the person, the legend of Dr. Henry C. Lee, Criminologist.  With his seemingly unassuming demeanor and his no-nonsense way of going about his work, he is the poster boy for crime busting, public safety and forensic science.  He is certainly a Connecticut celebrity and a world renowned expert.

Dr. Lee was born in China (the same day as the assassination date of JFK), in 1938 and grew up in Taiwan, beginning a career as a police officer and achieving the role of Captain before travelling to the U.S; where he earned a B.S. degree in Forensic Science in 1972 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from NYU.   Dr. Lee is Chief Emeritus of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory.

He is fond of telling the story of his childhood aspirations by saying,

“I wanted to be a basketball star.  I went to talk to my coach and he said, ‘You grow two feet and then come see me.’  I realized it was an impossible dream.”

Over the years, he has authored hundreds of articles, 25 textbooks and a compilation of real crime cases using crime scene analysis, DNA analysis, fingerprinting methods etc.  Dr. Lee is perhaps the world’s most famous expert in blood spatter pattern and analysis.

His repertoire of high profile cases are household names including the notorious “Wood Chipper murder” of Hellie Crafts in Connecticut, Jon Benet Ramsey, Phil Spector, OJ Simpson, Scott Peterson, Elizabeth Smart, Michael Peterson  and the re-investigation of President John F. Kennedy to name only a handful.

This writer has had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Lee lecture at a number of crime victim conferences.  He is modest when speaking of his exhaustive achievements, possesses a good sense of humor and never fails to be thought provoking.  His standard refrain when introducing a case,   articulated in his heavy Taiwanese dialect typically is “Some sing wrong here”   for “Something’s wrong here.”  (No disrespect meant whatsoever…you have to listen carefully, that’s all). Dr. Lee skillfully guides the listener about the crime scene, the basic principles of forensics and evidence gathering as well as the overall puzzle presented.  You instinctively know that he will present many more questions than answers…..  Very rarely is a case a “slam dunk.”  The evidence may point in a particular direction or hypothesis or may prove conclusively that “no one else could have done it….”  Or, more likely not provide enough evidence and remain unsolved for extended periods …even years.

With 40 years of experience and offering assistance to law enforcement with 6,000 cases to date, Dr. Lee has developed his own style of teaching.  He doesn’t hesitate to offer “teaching moments” and simulates elements of the crime.  Whether using red ink or ketchup, Dr. Lee gets into his work!

(A good example of this is featured in the six hour docu-drama “The Staircase,” featuring the Michael Peterson case.)

Dr. Lee has also dabbled in non-fiction crime books.  One that has gotten much publicity was with a co-author Dr. Jerry Labriola, a professor of Medicine at the University of Connecticut.  This book is entitled, “Famous Crimes Revisited: From Sacco-Vanzetti to O. J. Simpson.”  Dr. Labriola creates the fictional character of “Sam Constant, ”a travelling companion who expresses the sentiment of the time, while Dr. Lee intersperses modern-day comments (in bold print) using the latest scientific knowledge.  This is a unique concept for sure, but a confusing read and not much actual participation from Dr. Lee.  Critics have been luke-warm on this offering.

Book review aside, it may be that Dr. Henry Lee, at 73, still has too many important things on his plate to indulge in such pursuits.  In a local article September, 2010, he stated, “I’ve retired four times and still work a 16 hour day.  I have the energy of a 20 year old.”

It is this drive and workaholic nature that has launched a pre-eminent mind to ever increasing heights.  Dr. Lee joined the faculty of the University of New Haven in 1975.  UNH retains the reputation as one of the best, leading the pack in criminal justice and forensic academic programs.

The 14 million dollar Henry C. Lee Institute opened on October 15, 2010 and specializes in interdisciplinary research, training, testing case consulting and education in the field of forensic science.  A first hand account that appeared in a recent Hartford Courant article described the personal experience as follows:

First you touch a handprint on a wall that launches a video of Lee explaining that your fingerprints will now be checked with a database. Then the police sirens wail and you hear officers barking orders over a scanner.

On your left is a virtual crime scene laboratory where images and pertinent evidence from Connecticut’s notorious “wood-chipper” murder case are projected on the walls. Farther in are exhibits showing how various types of light reveal bloodstains on a screwdriver; a chance to match bullets; and a look at the differences between male and female skeletal remains.

Around a corner is a room where a body —- a dummy —- lies in a recliner, apparently strangled, with evidence marked by numbers around the room; a bottle of beer to his left, a powder that looks like cocaine on a coffee table, a bureau with clothes spilling out.

There are high-tech classrooms and advanced technologies for research and for consultations with police.

“The case consultation takes advantage of Dr. Lee’s expertise and his ability to see things when no one else can, and the expertise of others members of the department,” said grant coordinator, Elaine Pagliaro. She said the institute won’t duplicate services in the community, but will enhance services, in some cases by providing technology that isn’t readily available.

For example, she said, the institute will be buying an infrared camera to examine human remains. “You wouldn’t use an infrared camera a lot and it’s a relatively expensive piece of equipment,” she said.

The institute also has a cutting edge forensic crisis command center where UNH experts can connect by satellite with police and other governmental agencies to examine evidence that is beamed to them — thus providing help as if they were physically at the crime scene.

Tim Palmbach, executive director of the institute, said the goal is also to show the public that forensic science “is not necessarily what they’ve come to know and believe after watching ‘CSI.’ “

The missions of the institute, which officially opened its new building last week, include educating the public and students and training police, lawyers and investigators in the latest forensic practices.

For more information about the consulting services of The Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, please call (203) 932-7460, or contact us through our web site.
HC Lee Institute • University of New Haven • 300 Boston Post Rd • West Haven, CT 06516 • (203) 932-7460