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Confessed Anthrax Sender Discredited

January 06, 2002|From Associated Press

BRENTWOOD, N.H. — A teenager who told police he sent an anthrax-laced letter to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is a compulsive liar who has been treated in a state psychiatric hospital, his father said Saturday.

Elijah Wallace, 18, made the claim when he was arrested for breaking into a vacant home Friday. Police found him hiding in a closet with a gun and two knives.

Investigators also found five letters addressed to local businesses and a bag of white powder in the house with Wallace. Preliminary tests on one of the letters was negative for anthrax.

Wallace told police that he was preparing to send anthrax-laced letters, and had already sent four, including one mailed last week to Daschle, said Fremont, N.H., Police Chief Neal Janvrin.

But officials said they do not believe Wallace sent the Daschle letter because, with heightened security measures, it would have taken up to three weeks for a letter to reach the congressman.

The envelope mailed to Daschle contained a white powdery substance and a threatening letter. Army scientists and the FBI said Friday that the substance was talc and contained no trace of the deadly bacteria.

"He's telling a story that is a sensational story to, I think, feel important," the suspect's father, Eric Wallace, said Saturday.

Wallace said his son was diagnosed as a child with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

"We've been trying since the third grade to get him help, but it's been very difficult," the elder Wallace said.

Wallace, 45, a software engineer, said his son had been in and out of jail, mostly on minor theft charges.

Elijah Wallace began assaulting his family members last winter, his father said. His parents had him committed to the state psychiatric hospital last February and he was released in April.

Wallace entered no plea when he was arraigned on a burglary charge Saturday. He was returned to a county jail on $50,000 bail.

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