A Mississippi man has been arrested by federal agents in connection with the ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and two other public officials, Fox News confirmed Saturday morning.
The suspect Everett Dutschke, 41, is a martial arts instructor. He was taken into custody by U.S. marshals at his home in Tupelo, Miss. Federal investigators dropped charges Tuesday against their first major suspect, Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis.
Dutschke was arrested without incident by the FBI at about 12:50 a.m. Saturday, and handed over to the U.S. Marshals Service. His home and business were previously searched as part of an investigation into ricin-laced letters allegedly sent to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and a judge.
Dutschke’s attorney, Lori Nail Basham, did not immediately respond to phone or text messages Saturday. Earlier in the week, Basham denied any involvement by her client in the letters. Dutschke also denied involvement.
“My family knows I don’t have anything to do with this,” he said earlier. “The people who actually know me, know I don’t have anything to do with this.”
There are reports of an ongoing feud between Curtis and Dutschke.
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. ”
Judge Sadie Holland, who was also allegedly sent a letter, is a common link between the two men who have been investigated, and both know Wicker.
Holland was the presiding judge in a case in which Curtis was accused of assaulting a Tupelo attorney in 2004. Holland sentenced him to six months in the county jail. He served only part of the sentence, according to his brother.
Holland’s family has had political skirmishes with Dutschke.
Her son, Steve Holland, a Democratic state representative, said he thinks his mother’s only other encounter with Dutschke was at a rally in the town of Verona in 2007, when Dutschke ran as a Republican against Steve Holland.
Holland said his mother confronted Dutschke after he made a derogatory speech about the Holland family. She demanded that he apologize, which Holland says he did.
Steve Holland said he doesn’t know if his mother remembers Curtis’ assault case.
Ryan Taylor, a spokesman for Wicker, said Saturday that “because the investigation is still ongoing, we’re not able to comment.”