- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TUPELO, Miss. | Ricin was found in the former martial arts studio of the man suspected of sending poison letters to President 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 the deadly poison ricin, the affidavit said.

Traces of ricin also were found in the studio and Mr. 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 sometime during 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.


Mr. 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 Mr. Dutschke after prosecutors dropped charges against an Elvis impersonator who says he had feuded with the suspect in the past.

Mr. Dutschke said last week that he didn’t send the letters. His lawyer, federal public defender George Lucas, had no comment Tuesday about the information in the affidavit.

Mr. Dutschke was arrested as part of the investigation into poison-tainted letters sent to Mr. Obama, Mississippi GOP Sen. Roger F. Wicker and Lee County, Miss., Judge Sadie Holland.

The affidavit had been sealed since it was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Oxford. It also said that on evening of Dec. 31, someone using his “computer downloaded a publication, ‘Standard Operating Procedure for Ricin,’ which describes safe handling and storage methods for ricin, and approximately two hours later, ‘Immunochromotography Detection of Ricin in Environmental and Biological Samples,’ which describes a method for detecting ricin.”

Judge Holland dismissed a civil suit that Mr. Dutschke filed in 2006 against the witness, who accused him of making sexual advances toward the witness’ daughter, the affidavit said. In April, Mr. Dutschke pleaded not guilty in state court to two child molestation charges involving three girls younger than 16. He also was appealing a conviction on a different charge of indecent exposure.

Mr. Dutschke made a brief appearance Monday in federal court, wearing an orange jumpsuit with his hands shackled. He said little during the hearing other than answering affirmatively to the judge’s questions about whether he understood the charges against him.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted.