NEW YORK -- Investigators are looking into similarities between two letters threatening the life of President Reagan, federal sources said Wednesday -- one allegedly written by a gunman arrested Tuesday and the other received by a magazine the day Reagan was shot.
An anonymous letter mailed March 25 from Grand Junction, Colo., and received March 30 by 'The Evangelist' magazine in Baton Rouge, La., contained wording almost identical to that of a letter found Monday that allegedly was written by Edward Richardson, the sources said.
Richardson, 22, of Drexel Hill, Pa., was arrested by Secret Service agents in New York City Tuesday and charged with threatening Reagan's life in a letter that promised to complete the work started by John W. Hinckley, charged with shooting Reagan March 30 in Washington. Richardson, an unemployed laborer, had a loaded .32-caliber revolver in his possession when he was arrested.
Hinckley, 25, son of an Evergreen, Colo., oilman, was in Colorado the day the anonymous letter was sent from Grand Junction, according to information already gathered in the investigation of the assassination attempt.
David Hail, a spokesman for the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, who owns 'The Evangelist,' said the unsigned letter his magazine received said, 'Ronald Reagan will be shot to death and the country will turn to the left.'
In the other letter, recovered Monday in New Haven, Conn., Richardson allegedly wrote, 'Ultimately, Ronald Reagan will be shot to death and this country turned to the 'left.''
A federal law enforcement source who asked not to be identified said investigators 'are aware of the similarities (between the letters). An active investigation is being conducted.'
In Washington, FBI spokesmen said they have no evidence at this time of any link between Richardson and Hinckley.
The Secret Service investigates threats on a president's life. The FBI is in charge of the investigation of the assassination attempt.
Hinckley allegedly flew out of Denver March 25, the day the Colorado letter was sent, to begin a cross-country odyssey that ended with the shooting in Washington.
Richardson's lawyer, J. Edward Meyer, said through a spokeswoman that his client was at his parents' home in Drexel Hill 'for the week ending March 30.'
Richardson allegedly wrote another letter saying that Hinckley had appeared to him in a dream and urged him to kill Reagan.
Richardson underwent a lie detector test in New York Wednesday. Authorities refused to reveal details.
Like Hinckley, Richardson allegedly was obsessed with teen-age actress Jodie Foster and is accused of following her to New Haven and sending her a letter that threatened her life and Reagan's.
Two letters -- the one similar to the threat sent to Baton Rouge and another expressing affection for Miss Foster -- were found in his New Haven hotel room.
Richardson and Hinckley both had relatives who lived in the suburbs of Denver, and both had visited them during March.
Authorities in Denver said Richardson had stayed at a Lakewood, Colo., apartment with his two sisters 'from mid-December till early March.'
Hinckley stayed in the Golden Hours motel in Lakewood from March 8 until March 23, and then returned to his family's home in Evergreen, Colo., until he flew out to Salt Lake City from Denver on March 25.
Grand Junction, where the threat was mailed, is halfway across the state from Denver.
Hail, the spokesman for the Evangelical, said in Baton Rouge that the threat -- which appeared on a card used by readers to pledge contributions to Swaggart -- was printed with a blue-black felt pen. The writing was 'very, very definite; very clear and determined,' Hail said.
The magazine is not sold on newsstands and can be obtained only by writing an address given on Swaggart's television and radio broadcasts, Hail said.
He said the magazine staff had done a 'limited search' of subscriber records, but had not found either Hinckley's or Richardson's name among them.