Printed on: May 01, 2013

Tests link deadly ricin to letters suspect

By HOLBROOK MOHR
Associated Press

TUPELO, Miss. -- Ricin was found in the former martial arts studio of the man suspected of sending poison letters to President Barack Obama and other public officials, and was also discovered on a dust mask and other items he threw in the trash, federal prosecutors said in a court document made public Tuesday.

The affidavit says an FBI surveillance team saw James Everett Dutschke remove several items from the studio in Tupelo, Miss., on April 22 and dump them in a trash bin about 100 yards down the street. The items included a dust mask that later tested positive for ricin, the affidavit said.

Traces of ricin also were found in the studio and Dutschke used the Internet to buy castor beans, from which ricin is derived, the affidavit said.

Annette Dobbs, who owns the small shopping center where the studio was located, said authorities padlocked the door to it sometime after the search. She said Tuesday that FBI agents haven't told her anything, including whether the building poses a health threat. Inside the studio is one large room with a smaller reception area and a concrete floor. Police tape covered the front and the small back door.

Dutschke, 41, was arrested Saturday by FBI agents at his home in Tupelo, and is being held without bond pending a preliminary and detention hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Oxford.

The FBI searched his home, vehicles and studio last week, often while wearing hazardous materials suits. Attention turned to Dutschke after prosecutors dropped charges against 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis, an Elvis impersonator who says he had feuded with Dutschke in the past.