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Ivins' will might compel scattering of his ashes

FREDERICK — FREDERICK - Six weeks after Bruce E. Ivins killed himself, the cremated remains of Ivins, the Army scientist and anthrax suspect, are stored at a funeral home here, awaiting the outcome of an unusual probate court proceeding.

In a will he wrote last year, a few months before the FBI focused the anthrax letters investigation on him, Ivins wrote of his wish to be cremated and have his ashes scattered. But fearing that his wife, Diane, and their two children might not honor the request, he came up with a novel way to enforce his demand: threatening to make a bequest to an organization he knew his wife opposed, Planned Parenthood.

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"If my remains are not cremated and my ashes are not scattered or spread on the ground, I give to Planned Parenthood of Maryland" $50,000, Ivins wrote in the will. Court records value the estate at $143,000.

Ivins died July 29 of a drug overdose.

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Diane Ivins is a former president of Frederick County Right to Life, according to FBI records. Bruce Ivins played keyboards at a Catholic church in Frederick and described himself in e-mail messages as pro-life, but he was not an anti-abortion activist, said his lawyer, Paul F. Kemp.

Diane Ivins declined to comment, Kemp said.

The reason for Ivins' concern that his wishes might not be followed is unclear. Roman Catholic canon law "earnestly recommends" burial but permits cremation, said Chester Gillis, a theologian at Georgetown University. However, the ashes must be buried in consecrated ground and not scattered, Gillis said.

The will adds another stroke to the portrait that has emerged from FBI records of Ivins, an anthrax specialist at the Army's biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland, as quirky and mentally troubled. The FBI has said he mailed the anthrax letters that killed five people in 2001, though some former colleagues and members of Congress say the case has not been proved.

Diane Ivins has continued to defend her husband, asking the Orphans' Court of Frederick County to keep paying his lawyers at Venable LLP from his estate to talk to the media and prepare for possible congressional hearings "to show he was not the perpetrator of the crimes."

Court papers say Ivins paid $102,500 in legal fees before his death and that the estate incurred an additional $28,276 in fees through Aug. 21.

The will leaves $20,000 each to his children, both 24, with his firearms and ammunition going to his son, Andrew, and his car to his daughter, Amanda.

John W. Nugent, president of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said the will came as "a total surprise" and that his group did not expect or desire to collect the money.

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"We understand that the Ivins family has not supported Planned Parenthood's mission," Nugent said.

But the will requires that Diane Ivins provide the court with "detailed proof" that Ivins' remains were cremated and scattered. Lawyers said the ashes would be scattered after the court advised them on what proof was needed.

Before the FBI concluded that Ivins was the perpetrator of the anthrax letters, it had pursued another former scientist at Fort Detrick, Steven J. Hatfill. In June, the government paid $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Hatfill and publicly cleared him last month.

Hatfill's lawyers are seeking to force Toni Locy, a former reporter for USA Today who wrote articles about the anthrax case, to pay Hatfill's legal fees. Before the settlement, a judge had found Locy in contempt of court for refusing to name her sources.


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