Reporting Mary Bubala
TUPELO, Miss. (WJZ) — A dust mask may link a Mississippi man to an apparent attempt to poison President Obama and other public officials.
James Dutschke is accused of sending ricin-tainted letters through the mail.
And as Mary Bubala reports, it looks like the evidence against him is mounting.
In an eight-page affidavit, FBI agents say their surveillance team saw Dutschke remove items from the former martial arts studio he owned in Tupelo, and dump them in a public trash bin.
One of those items, a dust mask, tested positive for ricin. Ricin was also later found inside the martial arts studio in sinks and drains and on the floor.
Investigators say Dutschke ordered 100 castor bean seeds late last year through eBay. Castor beans are used in the production of ricin, which can be deadly and has no known antidote.
The FBI found publications on how to safely handle ricin and how to detect it on his computer. Dutschke denied any involvement in a YouTube video prior to his arrest.
“I met with the FBI, I consented to a search, signed a piece of paper saying ‘go ahead and search the house.’ I don’t have anything at all to do with this,” he said.
The FBI says Dutschke filed a civil lawsuit against the same person the FBI identified as its witness, but it was dismissed by a Mississippi judge.
The judge, Sadie Holland, received one of those ricin-laced letters. WJZ spoke with Judge Holland’s son, who beat Dutschke in a race for a seat in the Mississippi State House a year later.
“I about decided actually I might have been the target, not my mother. But I’m a mama’s baby of extraordinary portions and maybe he just said, ‘What the heck, if I get his mama I’ve got him,’” said Steve Holland.
The affidavit also mentions a series of texts sent from two cell phones registered to Dutschke’s wife, saying: “Get the fire going” and “We’re coming over to burn some things,” later identified as paperwork and personal belongings.
The FBI has not said whether other arrests are likely in the case.