DALLAS, Texas -- Federal authorities are tracking what they call the most prolific mailer of white powder in U.S. history with an eye toward solving a case that has tied up first responders and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Officials with the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service believe the same person has sent nearly 400 letters containing nontoxic white powder across the U.S. and abroad from Texas.
A day after upping the reward in the case from $100,000 to $150,000, officials stressed that each incident diverts police, fire personnel and other valuable resources from genuine emergencies, increasing the urgency of finding the perpetrator.
"We're certainly hopeful that someone will do the right thing and come forward, even if it's just to allow these first responders to do what they're supposed to do," said Amanda McMurrey, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Authorities increased the reward in the ongoing investigation after the suspect sent out another batch of letters, some targeting schools. However, McMurrey said two suspicious letters reported Thursday in the Dallas area, including one at the federal court house, weren't connected to the case.
According to the FBI, the computer-generated letters can be linked through similar phrases, including repeated references to subjects such as al-Qaida and the Nazi SS, apparently for shock value. However, the author has taken steps to hide his identity, including avoiding leaving fingerprints, the FBI said.
McMurrey said most of the letters went through the same suburban Dallas postal center, meaning they were mailed from one of four ZIP codes in the area.
Investigators also found similarities in the way the letters were addressed and what was inside, she said.
"This person is very particular in how he mails (his letters), and we are able to identify him based on the internal workings of the envelopes," McMurrey said, declining to elaborate on what the evidence shows.
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