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Iowa State Daily, Student Newspaper, Has Ricin Scare

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A college newspaper at Iowa State University evacuated their offices Wednesday while authorities inspected what students worried was the lethal poison ricin. It turned out to be paper and a demo CD.

The Iowa State Daily reported that their Ames, Iowa, office received a package from Washington state which Stephen Koenigsfeld, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, described to look "completely normal." A few letters, a CD and what appeared to be traces of white powder were found inside the package, the Des Moines Register reported.

When the students looked up Robert Alberg, a Washington state man listed on the package's return address, they noticed a story about a man with the same name who was investigated for homemade poison several years ago. The students then called police.

The local police and fire department, the United States Postal Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and a hazardous materials team were called to respond to the suspicious powder, the Ames Tribune reported. However, they determined there was no threat and the powder was actually bits of paper.

"We were able to quickly determine there was no powder. There was no scare," Aaron DeLashmutt, captain of investigations for ISU police, told the Iowa State Daily. "What they were seeing in there was more of a photo-type paper. When the individual folded it up to put it in the envelope, it cracked that surface. So when they unfolded it, those pieces were flaking off, and that's what they saw."

DeLashmutt told the Ames Tribune that the individual who sent the letter "had sent out a bunch of CDs to random places all over the country."

The FBI is currently investigating ricin letters sent to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among other officials. Three ricin-tainted letters were postmarked in Spokane, Wash., in May, according to the Associated Press, including one mailed to Obama. The FBI also linked a home in Texas to the ricin letters.

While authorities investigated the package at the school newspaper, students had to wash their hands and faces as a precaution. Koenigsfeld tweeted updates with photos of the students waiting. In one update, he noted "All students are feeling fine. Just hungry."

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