On Friday, Jan. 18th, a letter was dropped into a mailbox in Chicago’s southwest suburbs.
The envelope was addressed in childlike scrawl to Empire TV star Jussie Smollett at Cinespace Studios, a West Side production facility that the Fox program calls home. “MAGA”—the acronym for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”—was sloppily written in the return address space.
Days - Miles - Letter - Way - Smollett
Four days later and about eleven miles away, the letter found its way to Smollett.
Something about the envelope must have raised concerns. Smollett would later tell police that he and Empire’s executive producer donned gloves before they opened it and exposed themselves to a threat letter covered in white powder. Police logged the time as 2:30 p.m.
Powder - Tylenol - Reports - Letter - Smollett
The powder was later determined to be crushed Tylenol, according to reports. But the letter addressed to Smollett depicted a curly-haired stick figure being hanged by another stick figure with a noose.
Using individual letters and words that appear to be clipped from magazines, the sender threatened Smollett with an anti-black and anti-gay message:
“You will die black ****.”
About a week after Smollett opened the letter, he told police that he had been beaten and kicked in Streeterville by two men who recognized him from Empire. They poured bleach on him and—in throwbacks to the threat letter—called him anti-gay, anti-black slurs while putting a noose around his neck and screaming “this is MAGA country," he said.
Smollett - Attack - Investigation - Source - Threat
As Smollett reported the attack to police, a multi-agency federal investigation into the source of the threat letter was entering its seventh day.
Headed by the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, the terroristic threat investigation is being assisted by one of America’s oldest and most underestimated law enforcement agencies: The United States Postal Inspection Service.
Letter - Smollett - Mail - Way
Whoever sent the letter to Smollett may have considered the mail to be an untraceable way to deliver a...
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It had only one fault, it was useless.