Martial arts instructor to face Obama ricin charges
A Mississippi martial arts instructor is expected to appear in a federal court this morning to face charges in connection with the mailing of letters containing the deadly poison ricin to President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials.
Everett Dutschke, 41, was arrested on Saturday in Tupelo, Miss., after authorities searched his former business and home. He was held in custody over the weekend and will make his first court appearance before a U.S. magistrate in Oxford on Monday.
His arrest came about two weeks after suspicious letters intended for Obama and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi were intercepted in Washington. Tests showed they were tainted with ricin, a highly lethal poison made from castor beans. Another such letter was sent to a Mississippi state judge.
Authorities initially arrested another Mississippi man, Kevin Curtis, in the case but dropped the charges last week after a search of his house failed to turn up any evidence of his involvement.
Dutschke’s name surfaced at a court hearing when Curtis’ attorney suggested someone had framed her client and mentioned a running feud between the two men.
Authorities said Dutschke was charged with “developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon, to wit: ricin.”
He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
Dutschke’s attorney, Lori Basham, did not return calls seeking comment. She said last week that Dutschke had denied having anything to do with the ricin letters and had said he was cooperating with federal officials during their searches.
The ricin-tainted letters were discovered just days after the bombings of the Boston Marathon and during the massive police manhunt for those responsible, helping to fuel anxiety in the United States, especially in the capital.
The case rekindled memories of the 2001 U.S. anthrax attacks that killed five people and puzzled investigators for years. The Justice Department later said that a U.S. scientist who committed suicide was responsible.