Martial arts instructor charged over deadly ricin letters sent to Obama after Elvis impersonator claims he was ‘framed’ by him
Everett Dutschke was arrested early on Saturday morning
Has been charged with being in possession of a biological toxin
Set to appear in the U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss., on Monday
Dutschke had been under surveillance but slipped away on Wednesday
Kevin Curtis was set free on Tuesday after the FBI arrested him last week
The ricin-laced letters were sent last week to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and 80-year-old Mississippi judge Sadie Holland
A Mississippi man whose home and business were searched as part of an investigation into poisoned letters sent to the president and others has been charged with possession of a biological toxin.
Everett Dutschke, 41, was arrested on 12:50am on Saturday at his home in Tupelo, Miss. in connection with the letters, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said. He was charged later on Saturday.
The letters, which allegedly contained ricin, were sent last week to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and earlier to an 80-year-old Mississippi judge, Sadie Holland.
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Disappeared: Everett Dutschke, the chief person of interest in the case of deadly ricin letters being sent to President Obama, was arrested on Saturday. He went missing earlier this week
Arrested: Everett Dutschke (pictured left and right in previous mugshots) had been under surveillance this week. An FBI spokesman said he was arrested without incident early on Saturday
Madden said Dutschke was arrested without incident. She said additional questions should be directed to the U.S. attorney’s office. The office in Oxford did not immediately respond to messages Saturday.
Dutschke’s attorney, Lori Nail Basham, said on Saturday in a text message that ‘the authorities have confirmed Mr. Dutschke’s arrest. We have no comment at this time.’
She said earlier this week that Dutschke was ‘cooperating fully’ with investigators.
Dutschke has previously insisted he had nothing to do with the letters.
He is expected to appear in the U.S. District Court in Oxford, Mississippi, on Monday before Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Mississippi said in a statement, according to CNN.
Monitored: Everett Dutschke, working on his mini-van in his driveway in Tupelo Mississippi on April 26, had been under surveillance this week, police said
Defense: Dutschke was charged with possession of a biological toxin. He is expected to appear in court on Monday
Ryan Taylor, a spokesman for Wicker, said on Saturday that ‘because the investigation is still ongoing, we’re not able to comment.’
Charges in the case were initially filed against an Elvis impersonator, Kevin Curtis, but then dropped. Attention then turned to Dutschke, who has ties to the former suspect and the judge and senator.
Curtis’ attorney, Christi McCoy, said on Saturday: ‘We are relieved but also saddened. This crime is nothing short of diabolical. I have seen a lot of meanness in the past two decades, but this stops me in my tracks.’
Authorities said on Thursday that Dutschke had been under surveillance but slipped away on Wednesday, according to Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson who is working with the FBI.
Itawamba deputies searched a home in Ozark, Mississippi where Dutschke was believed to have been on Wednesday and found no one.
Suspect: Federal agents search the property of Everett Dutschke in Tupelo, Mississippi on Tuesday
Investigation: A hazmat official enters a taekwondo studio previously operated by James Everett Dutschke in Tupelo, Mississippi on Wednesday
Search: Officers search the grounds of the home of Melvin Kitchens as they try and help federal authorities locate Everett Dutschke near the town of Kirkville, Mississippi on Thursday
The local sheriff said he believed a friend of Dutschke was ‘helping him to lay low.’
Dutschke did not answer his cellphone when attempts were made to contact him on Thursday.
Charges in the case were dropped against earlier suspect Curtis, an Elvis impersonator had been charged with sending the poison letters last week.
He said he may have been framed by Dutschke, an accused child molester, martial arts instructor and political candidate with whom he has been rivals for several years.
Federal authorities on Tuesday dropped all charges against Curtis and spent several hours searching Dustschke’s house in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Dutschke addressed the media and denied he sent the ricin letters.
‘I don’t know how much more of this I can take,’ he told reporters.
‘I’m a patriotic American. I don’t have any grudges against anybody. … I did not send the letters,’ Dutschke said.
Accused: Everett Dutschke, right, had his home raided by federal agents on Tuesday after Curtis lawyer alleged he might be behind the ricin attack. He is seen here with Senator Roger Wicker
While the drama plays out in a series of baffling TV interviews given by both sides, the FBI has said little about its investigation.
One possible connection is Judge Holland, a common link between both Dutschke and Curtis. The two men also both know Wicker.
Holland was the presiding judge in a case in which Curtis was accused of assaulting a Tupelo attorney in 2004. Holland sentenced him to six months in the county jail. He served only part of the sentence, according to his brother.
Holland’s family has had political skirmishes with Dutschke.
Her son, Steve Holland, a Democratic state representative, said he thinks his mother’s only other encounter with Dutschke was at a rally in the town of Verona in 2007, when Dutschke ran as a Republican against Steve Holland.
Holland said his mother confronted Dutschke after he made a derogatory speech about the Holland family. She demanded that he apologize, which Holland says he did.
Steve Holland said he doesn’t know if his mother remembers Curtis’ assault case.
Denial: Dutschke has said he had nothing to do with the ricin attacks and is a ‘patriotic American’
Southern-fried feud: Everett Dutschke, left, and Kevin Curtis, right, are both caught up in the federal investigation over poison letters sent to the president. They are both also martial arts rivals
However, he admitted a longstanding animosity with Curtis.
Dutschke says he is a member of MENSA, the society for high-IQ individuals. Curtis claims to be a member of the group, as well.
‘He is not a MENSA member,’ Dutschke emphatically said as federal agents and hazmat crews combed his house. ‘The certificate he posted online is a lie.’
During a strange and rambling press conference on Tuesday, Curtis said Dutschke ‘hates him.’ He offered several reasons why.
‘I don’t if it’s a martial arts kind of conflict and he thinks you’re better than him and he wants to challenge you in the rink. I don’t know,’ he said.
Both men are trained in the Korean martial art of taekwondo and they agreed to a showdown at a local martial arts studio in Tupelo.
‘At one point on the phone I did say, “If you wanna meet somewhere just you and I…” and he said, “Taekwondo Plus, Main Street.” I said, “I’ll be there in 20 minutes.“‘
Mississippi Man Charged in Obama Ricin-Letter Case
The arrest early today of J. Everett Dutschke, 41, follows the government’s April 23 dismissal of charges against Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, an Elvis impersonator from Corinth, Mississippi, who was initially accused in a probe of the matter.
Dutschke was taken into custody at 12:50 a.m. without incident, according to the FBI. He is charged with knowingly developing, producing and possessing a biological agent for use as a weapon, said U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams of the Northern District of Mississippi. Dutschke faces possible life imprisonment if convicted.
Christi McCoy, an attorney for Curtis, said in an April 22 preliminary hearing in federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, that her client may have been framed for the mailings by Dutschke, with whom Curtis had a long-running e-mail feud.
Curtis was arrested last week after envelopes allegedly sent to Obama, a Democrat, and Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker were intercepted April 16 and found to contain “a suspicious granular substance” that tested positive for ricin. The letters were signed “I am KC and I approve this message,” according to the criminal complaint.
The case against Curtis fell apart after an FBI agent testified at a preliminary hearing that searches failed to turn up any trace of ricin at Curtis’s home, as well as in his vehicle and the homes of his ex-wife and parents. An analysis of his personal computer also found nothing related to ricin, agent Brandon Grant said. Federal scrutiny quickly turned to Dutschke.
The letters to Obama and Wicker were postmarked April 8 and both read in part: “No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still ‘Missing Pieces’ Maybe I have your attention now Even if that means someone must die.”
Dutschke is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander in Oxford federal court on Monday, according to Adams.
Ricin is made from castor beans and has been used experimentally in medicine to kill cancer cells, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. It’s harmful and potentially fatal if inhaled or ingested, according to the CDC.
At a press conference after Curtis’s release from custody on April 23, McCoy said the idea that he was framed is “very diabolical, very frightening.”
Curtis, who said he loves his country and would never threaten the president, stated that he intends to return to performing, aiding his favorite charity –the Save A Life Foundation — and finding a publisher for his book, “Missing Pieces,” a novel he said exposes a black-market in human body parts.
Curtis and Dutschke have known each other for many years and Dutschke at one point had a business relationship with Curtis’s brother, Jack, McCoy said at the hearing.
McCoy told Judge Alexander that the dispute between Curtis and Dutschke was over “who is the biggest liar and is putting false information on their website.”
She said Dutschke, the operator of a martial-arts studio who was arrested this year on child molestation charges, may have thought Curtis was somehow involved with “the girls coming forward” to authorities.
- Dutschke Arrested In Ricin Case (wreg.com)
- Miss. man arrested in ricin letters case (news.yahoo.com)
- New Arrest in Ricin Letters Case (wtok.com)
- FBI: Miss. man arrested in suspicious letters case (bostonherald.com)
- FBI: Miss. Man Arrested in Suspicious Letters Case (abcnews.go.com)
- FBI: Miss. man arrested in suspicious letters case (hosted.ap.org)
- FBI: Man arrested in probe of poisoned letters (kmov.com)
- Arrest Made in Ricin Letters Case (drudge.com)
- Mississippi man arrested in ricin case (cnn.com)
- James Everett Dutschke arrested, Tupelo Police say (Ricin letters case) (democraticunderground.com)