Updated: April 26, 2013, 11:35 AM
A former Republican candidate for Mississippi’s House of Representatives named J. Everett Dutschke expressed disbelief and dismay Tuesday shortly after a man he was accused of framing for mailing letters that tested positive for the poison ricin to President Barack Obama and other officials was released from jail. Dutschke has not been charged in the ricin case and has denied any involvement.The FBI originally focused on Paul Kevin Curtis, a Mississippi Elvis impersonator, due to his initials and similar language to his many online writings that appeared in the poisoned letters. Curtis was released from jail on bond Tuesday and his attorneys have a joint press conference with federal officials scheduled for 5 p.m. Central time.
On Monday, Curtis’ lawyer, Christi McCoy, said she believed Dutschke could have been responsible for mailing the letters noting he had argued with Curtis over email.
Dutschke denied any involvement in the ricin case in an interview with a local newspaper, though he admitted he spoke with FBI agents on Thursday and allowed them to search his home. TPM spoke with Dutschke Tuesday shortly after the news of Curtis’ release.
“I’m alive,” Dutschke said when asked how he was.
Dutschke expressed disbelief when told of Curtis’ release.
“What did you just say?” he asked.
We repeated that Curtis had been released.
“You’re kidding me,” said Dutschke. “For what?”
We told him we were unsure and asked whether he knew if officials were still investigating him in the case.
“I really can’t answer that question at this exact second,” he said.
Dutschke then said he had to go. Subsequent attempts to speak with him were unsuccessful. Less than an hour later FBI agents arrived at Dutschke’s house and he told local reporters on the scene they were there to question him.
This is not Dutschke’s first brush with the law. Earlier this year, Dutschke, who operates a taekwondo studio in Tupelo, Miss., was charged with one count of child molestation for a case involving a 7-year-old female. He was then released on bond. TPM attempted to speak with his attorney in that case, Lori Nail Basham, but her office said she was in court and unavailable to speak with us. Basham’s office would not comment about whether she was representing Dutschke in the ricin investigation.
We also contacted the Tupelo Police Department to inquire about Dutschke and were referred to the FBI. Neither the FBI or the Lee County Sheriff have responded to requests for comment. McCoy has also not responded to a request for comment. In an interview with CNN Tuesday, McCoy said the case against Curtis had not yet been dismissed but she was confident he is “100 percent” innocent and “absolutely” certain he had been framed.
Dutschke had many interests in addition to taekwondo. In 2007, he ran for a seat in Mississippi’s House of Representatives as a Republican. He lost to incumbent Democrat Daniel Holland.
Along with President Obama, ricin-tainted letters were sent to a local judge named Sadie Holland and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). Judge Holland is the mother of the man who defeated Dutschke in his 2007 campaign.
A Myspace account linked to Dutschke shows his campaign posters and photos of him with other politicians including former President George W. Bush, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who received one of the ricin-tainted letters. Dutschke also posted political statements on a YouTube account where he used the same internet alias that appears in his email address. He was also the frontman of a “loop oriented rock” band called Dusty and the Robodrum.
Late Update: An official with the Mississippi Republican Party informed us Dutschke also had another failed political campaign. In 2008, one year after he lost the race against Holland as a Republican, Dutschke ran for Election Commissioner of Mississippi’s District Five as a Democrat. He lost that election to a man named John Edwards.