TUPELO, Miss. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A onetime Mississippi State House candidate whose home and business were searched as part of an investigation into ricin-tainted letters has been arrested in the case, according to the FBI.
J. Everett Dutschke, 41, was arrested about 12:50 a.m. Saturday at his Tupelo home by FBI special agents in connection with the letters, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said. The letters, which allegedly contained ricin, were sent last week to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and earlier to an 80-year-old Mississippi judge, Sadie Holland.
Madden said FBI special agents arrested Dutschke without incident. She said additional questions should be directed to the U.S. attorney’s Oxford, Miss., office, which did not immediately respond to messages Saturday.
Dutschke’s attorney, Lori Nail Basham, did not immediately respond to phone or text messages Saturday. Basham said earlier this week that Dutschke was “cooperating fully” with investigators. Dutschke has insisted he had nothing to do with the letters.
Ryan Taylor, a spokesman for Wicker, said Saturday that “because the investigation is still ongoing, we’re not able to comment.”
Dutschke ran unsuccessfully for the Mississippi State House of Representatives in 2007. He is also the subject of an investigation for child molestation, published reports said.
Charges in the case were initially filed against an Elvis impersonator but then dropped. Attention then turned to Dutschke, who has ties to the former suspect and the judge and senator.
Earlier in the week, as investigators searched his primary residence in Tupelo, Dutschke had remarked to reporters, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”
Charges initially were filed last week against Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, the Elvis impersonator, but then dropped after authorities said they had discovered new information. Curtis’ lawyers say he was framed.
Curtis’ attorney, Christi McCoy, said 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.”
This past Tuesday, there were reports of another suspicious mailing at a government facility in Washington, D.C. Intelligence officials said no package or letters were located.
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