Official: white powder at JSD is like cake mix

The suspicious white powder that was sent to the Juneau School District tested negative for any toxins, according to a public health official.

Bernd Jilly, the chief of Alaska State Public Health Laboratories, says it appears the substance is a mixture of flour and cornstarch.

“There is nothing to worry about,” Jilly said in a phone interview late Friday afternoon. “We’re still doing a few more chemistry tests, but they’re all coming up being some sort of starchy material — a mixture of flour and cornstarch and a few other things in there that usually make up cake mix.”

Jilly said the lab in Anchorage tested the specimen for about a dozen toxic organisms and about two dozen industrial chemicals. The test results came back Friday afternoon around 4 p.m. The sample was received Thursday evening.

The Juneau School District was the fifth Alaskan school district to receive the mysterious white substance contained in an envelope postmarked from Texas. The unwanted correspondence sparked an evacuation of the Juneau School District’s Central Office, at the corner of 12th Street next to Harborview Elementary School, on Wednesday.

Southeast Island School District in Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island received a similar envelope that same day, also prompting evacuations. The lab still has not received the specimen from Thorne Bay to do testing.

The powder from Tanana School District west of Fairbanks also came back negative for toxins, Jilly said. The Chugach School District in Anchorage is also in the clear.

FBI Special Agent and spokesman Eric Gonzales announced Friday morning a fifth letter containing a white powder substance was received at Kashunamiut School District in Bethel. The National Guard was responding the scene to transfer the powder to the lab, Jilly said.

Gonzales said an investigation into the matter is ongoing, and the FBI is working with local and state law enforcement, fire departments, the postal service and public health officials.

He said in an earlier interview if the perpetrators are caught, they could face felony criminal charges.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at


Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:41

This Day in Juneau History: Jan. 22, 1987

On Jan. 22, 1987, Gov. Steve Cowper prepared to discuss the final part of his fiscal plan: budget cuts. The total amount suggested to be cut by his temporary cabinet was $300 million, which tore funding from a variety of different programs. However, although what propositions Cowper accepted were still a mystery, Press Secretary David Ramseur confirmed that the cuts he did accept totaled at about $200 million. Cowper was to give a speech directly to the Alaska Legislature discussing the specifics of his recommended cuts.

Read more
Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:40

Fire calls for Jan. 22, 2017

This report contains public information available to the Empire from law enforcement and public safety agencies. This report includes arrest and citation information, not conviction information. Anyone listed in this report is presumed innocent. Anyone with information about a crime can report a tip anonymously to

Read more
Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:40

Man caught with 3 pounds of meth on Southeast Alaska-bound ferry sentenced to 20 months

A 21-year-old man who was caught transporting three pounds of methamphetamine — reportedly the largest seizure in Southeast Alaska in at least 10 years— on the ferry between Bellingham and Ketchikan last May was “a patsy, plan and simple,” his defense attorney argued.

Read more


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback