Take Two: FBI Arrests Another Suspect in Ricin Letters Case
The FBI has not had a good month.
After some questionable actions with regard to the events surrounding the Boston bomber suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and initially arresting the wrong man in the case involving letters tainted with ricin sent to President Obama, a judge, and a Senator Wicker, the FBI has taken another suspect into custody connected to the ricin matter.
James Everett Dutschke, a man involved in a bitter personal feud with Elvis impersonator and former suspect in the cast Paul Curtis, was arrested by federal marshals this morning at his Tupelo, Mississippi home. He is being charged with “knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon.”
FBI spokeswoman Deborah R. Madden declined to provide details about the investigation, including what evidence prompted this latest arrest. Linda King, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford, Miss, said Saturday afternoon that the agency was not releasing any additional details about the case.
Dutschke went into hiding on Thursday to escape the media attention, prompting the FBI and local law enforcement officials to launch a five-hour-long manhunt for him. He has insisted he had nothing to do with the letters.
Federal authorities officials searched his home Tuesday for more than 10 hours and spent Wednesday searching the site of his former studio. Several people at the scene were wearing respirators, and a portable laboratory was set up nearby. Dutschke’s studio closed in January when he was under a child-molestation investigation. A grand jury indicted him this month. The alleged victim is a 7-year-old girl who had visited his studio, Basham said.
Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity on the day Curtis was released, said they believed Curtis had been framed.
The evidence that led the FBI to arrest Curtis included several details that could be found on social media sites or were known to Dutschke.
No definitive word yet on whether the substance found in the letters was indeed ricin, or some other poison. If it is, it begs the question; how did someone like Dutschke acquire the expertise to extract the ricin from castor beans and place it in letters without poisoning himself? It's a nagging detail that should give us pause in thinking that the FBI truly got its man -- this time.