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MAIL BOMB KILLS FEDERAL JUDGE IN ALABAMA

SHARE MAIL BOMB KILLS FEDERAL JUDGE IN ALABAMA

A federal judge was killed by a mail bomb that went off at his home Saturday, seriously wounding his wife, authorities said.

Judge Robert S. Vance of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals died instantly when a package delivered to his home went off around 3 p.m., FBI spokesman Chuck Steinmetz said in Washington. It was believed to be only the third time this century a federal judge had been assassinated."Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and FBI Director William Sessions expressed outrage" over the slaying, Steinmetz said Saturday night, reading from a statement.

Vance's wife, Helen, was admitted to the emergency room at St. Vincent's Hospital in serious condition with lacerations and internal injuries, said hospital spokeswoman Barbara Traylor.

The FBI, Postal Service investigators, the U.S. marshal and local authorities were investigating the blast, said U.S. Attorney Frank Donaldson.

State Attorney General Don Siegelman told staff members to "dedicate every resource of this office to find the perpetrators."

Gov. Guy Hunt called the attack "a cowardly thing" and an "affront against civilization, against our form of government. Judge Vance had a sharp legal mind. He was one of the leading judges in the country," the governor said.

Vance, 58, was appointed to the bench in 1978 by President Carter.

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was chairman of the state Democratic party, said Sen. Howell Heflin, D-Ala. He said Vance would "occupy many of the pages of the history of Alabama for his leadership of reasoned sanity" during those "turbulent years."