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Compulsive liar? Anthrax claim is discounted

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BRENTWOOD N.H. — A teenager who told police he sent an anthrax-laced letter to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is a compulsive liar who has been treated in a state psychiatric hospital, his father said Saturday.

Elijah Wallace, 18, made the claim when he was arrested for breaking into a vacant home Friday. Police found him hiding in a closet with a gun and two knives.

Investigators also found five letters addressed to local businesses and a bag of white powder in the house with Wallace. Preliminary tests on one of five letters found with the teen was negative for anthrax.

Wallace told police he was preparing to send anthrax-laced letters and had already had sent four others, including one mailed last week to Daschle, Fremont Police Chief Neal Janvrin said.

But officials said they do not believe Wallace sent the Daschle letter because, with heightened security measures, it would have taken up to three weeks for a letter to reach the congressman.

The Daschle letter contained a white powdery substance and threatening letter. Army scientists and the FBI said Friday that the substance was talc and contained no trace of the deadly bacteria.

"There is no indication that he (Wallace) has the wherewithal to send a contaminated letter," U.S. Capitol Police spokesman Dan Nichols said Saturday.

But Nichols said New Hampshire mail will now be flagged by mail screeners and if a letter is found, it will be handed over to the FBI.

"He's telling a story that is a sensational story to, I think, feel important," the teen's father, Eric Wallace, said Saturday. "I don't think there's any chance any anthrax was involved."

Wallace said his son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, when he was a child.