Letters sent to Houston, DC schools linked?
HOUSTON At first, we were told by HISD the letters contained only cornstarch. Now the FBI says it's not the case, and the incident may not be isolated either. Similar letters have been found in north Texas, Austin, Chicago, Washington and the northeast. Youth has a way of moving on, but for adults, the day that some two dozen Houston schools received anonymously mailed envelopes with white powder inside is still a fresh and disconcerting memory. "It absolutely concerns me," said Jim Rodrigues, who was waiting for his grandson at Bellaire High School Friday. "It would concern anyone." And yet, Houston schools were only the second round of recipients of letters. In early August, north Texas businesses, a pair of churches and a mosque received similar mail. Among them was Raytheon, a defense contractor. There was an envelope containing harmless white powder and a letter with a reference to Al Qaida, according to federal investigators. Now, Houston's FBI says the Houston envelopes also contained a message. "There was a letter inside the envelope along with the powder, but we're not discussing the contents of the letter at this time," said Shauna Dunlop with the Houston FBI's office. All letters are said to have a Dallas postmark. This week, a pair of schools in Washington received the same kind of mail. It may increase the possibility that these aren't copycat cases but the work of one person or one group. "Often times, you see that an offender wants more," said Mark Young, a security consultant who's worked with the FBI. "They become pretty obsessed with the coverage they're getting so you could see an increase in activity." The only thing the letters have delivered so far is cornstarch powder, commotion and concern. "All this does is serve to kind of jade us, if you will, and then when that happens, we let our guard down and what happens?" Rodrigues said. Two years ago, the same kind of letters were sent to several state governors' offices, including Texas. Authorities are now trying to decide whether those letters are connected to the ones turning up today. A pair of $100,000 rewards are being offered in Houston and north Texas for information leading to an arrest.