FBI Searches Another Home in Ricin Investigation

FBI Searches Another Home in Ricin Investigation

Federal agents spent the day at a home in North Tupelo Thursday, with an FBI official saying the raid was part of the ongoing ricin-laced letter investigation.
TUPELO, MS (abc24.com) - Federal agents spent the day at a home in North Tupelo Thursday, with an FBI official saying the raid was part of the ongoing ricin-laced letter investigation.

Neighbors say several unmarked cars pulled up to the home on Thursday morning. By afternoon, a blue tent was erected, and several SUVs were backed-up to a home in a rural section of Tupelo.

"The FBI executed the search today in Tupelo, MS, pursuant to a Court authorized search warrant, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged violations of federal law (specifically, prohibitions with respect to biological weapons) by James Everett Dutschke," FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said in an email to abc24.com on Thursday.

The raid came hours after Everett Dutschke appeared in Federal Court in Oxford. During the two hour hearing, Dutschke's lawyer waived his right to a detention hearing. After that, federal prosecutors laid out a portion of their case against Dutschke, who was arrested Saturday and charged with sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and a local judge.

During the hearing, the lead FBI agent testified how investigators built their case against Dutschke.

FBI Special Agent Stephen Thomason detailed how investigators at first focused on Kevin Curtis, who was initially arrested and charged in the case. Thomason testified Thursday morning, even after they arrested Curtis, they were told by multiple people that they needed to look into Dutschke.

Under questioning by federal prosecutors, Thomason said at first investigators thought Curtis and Dutschke might be working together. He went on to say though, the more they looked into Dutschke, the more the investigation focused just on him.

Days after his arrest Curtis was released, and charges against him were dropped.

Thomason said an FBI surveillance team was watching Dutschke last week when he showed up at the martial arts studio where he used to work. According to Thomason, Dutschke was seen removing a box of items from the studio, then dumping the contents in a dumpster about 100 yards away.

Thomason testified FBI agents retrieved Dutschke's trash, including a blue dust mask, latex gloves, and a box for a coffee grinder. According to Thomason, the mask tested positive for traces of ricin, and had Dutschke's DNA on it.

During the hearing, Dutschke sat in an orange prison jumpsuit, his legs shackled. He frequently wrote notes which he handed off to his lawyer.

Thomason also said the investigation remains ongoing, and a search warrant was executed Thursday morning, with FBI agents analyzing a printer to see if it was the one used to print those letters.

After Thomason's testimony, the judge decided there was enough evidence to proceed and ruled the case would be handed over to a grand jury.

After the judge's ruling, Dutschke was escorted out of the courtroom by U.S. Marshals.

Back in Tupelo, the FBI wouldn't specify what, if anything, they found. It wasn't clear Thursday evening whose house was raided, and what connection it may have to Dutschke.

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