Ricin found in studio of man suspected of sending poison letter to Obama

2013-05-01T00:00:00Z Ricin found in studio of man suspected of sending poison letter to ObamaThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

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.

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 affidavit said. The items included a dust mask that later tested positive for ricin, it 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 had padlocked the door to it.

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 an Elvis impersonator who said he had feuded with Dutschke in the past.

Dutschke told The Associated Press 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.

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

The affidavit said numerous documents found in Dutschke's home had "trashmarks" that were similar to ones on the letters sent to the officials.

"Trashmarks are flaws or marks that come from dirt, scratches or other marks on the printer. They are transferred to each piece of paper that is run through the printer," it said.

It also describes text messages allegedly sent between two phones subscribed to Dutschke's wife, including one on April 20 that said "get a fire going" and "we're coming over to burn some things."

The FBI has not yet revealed details about how lethal the ricin was. A Senate official has said the ricin was not weaponized, meaning it wasn't in a form that could easily enter the body. If inhaled, ricin can cause respiratory failure, among other symptoms. No antidote exists.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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