(Photo: Rogelio V. Solis, AP)
Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
TUPELO, Miss. -- A local man whose home and business were searched as part of an investigation into ricin-poisoned letters sent to President Obama and other officials was arrested Saturday, the FBI said.
Everett Dutschke, 41, was arrested after days of speculation that he, and not another local man with whom he'd feuding -- and who had himself had earlier been arrested in the case -- had mailed the letters earlier this month.
The other recipients were Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, who comes from this city of 37,000, and an 80-year-old local judge, Sadie Holland.
On Tuesday charges initially filed against Kevin Curtis, 45, a sometime Elvis impersonator, were dropped. The FBI said it had no physical evidence to support circumstantial evidence that had been based on similarities between the ricin letters and Curtis' online writings. Asked who might have wanted to frame him, Curtis and his lawyers mentioned Dutschke.
Dutschke, who has feuded, mostly online, with Curtis over various matters, has a link to Judge Holland. In 2007 he ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for state legislature against her son Steve, the Democratic incumbent. Dutschke compared Holland to Boss Hogg, the corrupt county commissioner on The Dukes of Hazard TV series.
Once, at an event where the candidates were speaking, Judge Holland got up on stage to rebuke Dutschke and demand that he apologize.
Dutschke has had other problems with the law. Earlier this year he was charged with sexually molesting several girls who'd been students at his martial arts studio. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $25,000 bail. He previously was convicted of indecent exposure involving a minor in his neighborhood.
The letters addressed to Obama and Wicker never reached the intended recipients. Judge Holland handled the letter and sniffed it, with no ill effects, according to her son.
Dustchke told ClarionLedger.com in Jackson, Miss., this week that he feels targeted by Curtis' defense, and that he didn't know why his name was brought into it.
"I guess Kevin got desperate. I feel like he's getting away with the perfect crime," Dustchke told the website. "It has made my family incredibly unsafe. It has put a target on us, and it was reckless and irresponsible."
On Monday, the FBI said federal authorities didn't find any ricin in Curtis' Corinth home or vehicle. On Tuesday, federal authorities including the 47th Civil Support Team, a full-time response team for emergencies or terrorist events that involve weapons of mass destruction or toxic industrial chemicals, began a search of Dutschke's house.