Mississippi taekwondo teacher charged with a ricin plot -- again
A taekwondo instructor in Tupelo, Miss., has been indicted -- for the second time -- on suspicion of trying to frame an Elvis impersonator in a case involving a poison-filled letter to a U.S. official.
This time James Everett Dutschke, 42, is accused of trying to carry out a plot from jail, according to a superseding indictment filed Wednesday in federal court in Mississippi.
The story of Dutschke’s feud with the Elvis impersonator, Paul Kevin Curtis, became national headline fodder in April after Curtis was arrested on suspicion of mailing cryptic letters laced with ricin to President Obama, a U.S. senator and a local judge.
The writings in the letters matched things Curtis had written on the Web, in which he’d previously tried to persuade government officials to investigate a supposed plot to sell human organs on the black market.
But Curtis was soon released after investigators acknowledged they didn’t have enough evidence to hold him.
Their sights had turned to Dutschke. An FBI mobile surveillance team tracked Dutschke as he left his taekwondo studio in Tupelo. According to court documents, agents watched as he threw away gloves, a dust mask and a coffee grinder that could have been used to make ricin.
Ricin occurs naturally in castor beans. It can take several forms, including powder or mist, and can be especially dangerous if inhaled or ingested. There is no known antidote.
Dutschke spotted the agents, waved and disappeared, according to court documents. But he eventually reappeared at his home and was arrested after officials discovered traces of ricin in his studio, officials said.
On May 31, he was indicted on charges of making and mailing the poison letters and of trying to frame Curtis.
The latest indictment says Dutschke wasn’t done yet. The documents say that between June 13 and June 21, while Dutschke was awaiting trial in the Lafayette County Detention Center, he tried to recruit someone else to make ricin and mail Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) a letter reading:
“It doesn’t matter that the Fife types have the wrong one. D. had to be sacrificed to show the corruption in the system. I tried to warn you.
According to the indictment, officials think this letter was another attempt to frame Curtis.
Dutschke remains in jail.
“Wow,” Christi McCoy, Curtis’ lawyer, told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I’m glad he’s in jail because that’s where he needs to be. He’s a threat to a lot of people.”
Dutschke’s attorney couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday evening.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get the day's top news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.