After charges were dropped on the person they originally suspected of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others, authorities have already begun investigating a new person of interest to the case, J. Everett Dutschke. However, authorities have not said whether or not he is a suspect at this time. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Charges Were Dropped Against Paul Kevin Curtis
Charges were dropped on Tuesday against the Mississippi man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker and Sadie Holland, a justice of the peace in Lee County, Mississippi. According to a federal magistrate, the charges were dismissed because “the ongoing investigation has revealed new information.” Investigators testified at a hearing that no evidence was found in Curtis’ home, car or internet searches to believe he was responsible for the letters. The Washington Post reports that they were dropped without prejudice, or in other words, that they can be reinstated at any time.
Curtis said that he was “overwhelmed” by being arrested and charged in the case, and that he would never do anything to harm the president or the United States.
“I respect President Obama and love my country. I would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official,” Paul Kevin Curtis said at a news conference Tuesday.
2. Authorities Began a New Search on J. Everett Dutschke
As charges were dropped on Curtis, authorities are now investigating a new person of interest, his supposed rival, James Everett Dutschke, a 41-year-old former candidate for Mississippi’s House of Representatives who ran against the son of one of the Ricin targets. According to WTVA, he owns Tupelo Taekwondo Plus where he teaches karate. Dutschke and Curtis’ brother were former business partners. However, Dutschke and Curtis apparently had a falling out after an argument over e-mail.
3. Dutschke Was Surprised When He Found Out Curtis Was Released
In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Dutschke expressed disbelief when told of Curtis’ release.
“What did you just say?” Dutschke asked when he was told charges on Curtis were dropped. “You’re kidding me. For what?”
When asked if he was still being investigated, he responded that he couldn’t answer that question at the moment. Subsequent attempts to speak with Dutschke were unsuccessful and less that an hour later FBI agents arrived at his home to question him.
4. He is Currently Facing Child Molestation Charges
Sending ricin-laced letters is not the only thing he is being investigated for. Last week, he was arrested for child molestation charges. A seven-year-old girl complained that Dutschke touched her inappropriately.
5. He Maintains His Innocence
Dutschke denies his involvement in the ricin-letters and doesn’t understand why his name was brought in the case.
“I categorically deny it,” Dutschke told the Daily Journal