EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

November 19, 2012

Suspicious powder sent to at least 4 businesses

Police: 'Mentally ill' Haverhill man eyed in investigation

A Haverhill man described as “mentally ill” sent or dropped off thank-you cards containing what turned out to be baking soda to at least four Merrimack Valley businesses — and there may be more arriving in mailboxes today.

Three nearly simultaneous reports of suspicious white powder were reported early yesterday, prompting a massive response by local and state police, the FBI, the state Department of Fire Services, and the regional Hazardous Materials Response Team to the Home Depot in Methuen, Home Health VNA in Lawrence, and the Edwards Law Office next to the police station in Haverhill.

Later in the day, another card was received at a North Andover business at 85 Flagship Drive, again bringing out the HazMat team and investigators.

Haverhill Police said they have a suspect, but no arrest had been made as of 10 p.m. Monday. Detectives searched an apartment at 46-48 S. Main St. in Haverhill about noon yesterday, leaving with several plastic bags containing what appeared to be stationary and other items. Investigators refused to identify the man, but said “charges are pending.” They also said the man was “mentally ill,” but would not say anything further.

While the four packages received yesterday contained baking soda, police are warning people to be careful of anything suspicious received in the mail. Each of the four cards sent were labeled with a return address, although investigators would not provide more information.

“It is believed that there may have been other envelopes containing the white powder mailed,” read a statement from Haverhill Police.

Joseph Edwards, owner of Edwards Law Office at 60 Bailey Boulevard in Haverhill, was one of those who received a card. He said the mail came early, about 10 a.m., and in the pile of letters he received was a small green envelope hand-addressed to him. He said the handwriting on the envelope was “shaky,” and, although there was a return address on the envelope, there was no stamp.

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