Is the Ricin Case Coming Apart?


If last week was the week from hell, with barbaric crime and a horrific industrial accident, the ricin letters sent to President Obama and Sen. Wicker (R-MS) turned out to be the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the tragic proceedings — evil, bizarre but eventually harmless. But before we get any deeper into the morning, I wanted to flag to your attention that there now seems to be a non-trivial chance that the feds got the wrong guy.So, if you remember, the feds zeroed in a bipolar Elvis impersonator down in Tupelo and Corinth, Mississippi who actually signed the letters with his own initials and a catchphrase he’s used widely across the internet. He also has a weird obsession and conspiracy theory tied to the sale of body parts at a facility he used to work at, which may or may not be a paranoid fantasy.

But here’s the problem. In the initial court hearing yesterday, the government conceded that in their initial search they found no evidence of ricin or the production of ricin. And a search of Curtis’s computers similarly found no evidence of trying to find information about ricin or anything else clearly related to the case.

Now, they’re still looking for evidence and maybe they’ll find it. And perhaps he just covered his tracks well. But that’s a level of tradecraft that seems somewhat beyond the interest level and abilities of someone who seems rather hapless in general and actually signed his name to the letters.

Even the government seemed less than fully convincing when pressed on whether they stil believed in their case. “Given the right mindset and the Internet and the acquisition of material, other people could be involved. However, given information right now, we believe we have the right individual,” said FBI Agent Brandon Grant in yesterday’s hearing

And it gets better. Curtis’ lawyer has an alternative suspect: a guy named Everett Dutschke, with whom Curtis is allegedly engaged in a feud. Dutschke denies all involvement. But the FBI was apparently at least interested enough to check on Dutschke themselves.

From the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

“I categorically deny it,” he told the Daily Journal about 4:15 p.m., a few hours after a break in a federal court proceeding to present evidence against Kevin Curtis.

“I met the guy on two occasions,” Dutschke said in a telephone conversation. “I wasn’t going to be pulled into his fantasy world.”

He did, however, admit he met with the FBI last Thursday, saying agents came to his house and he gave them permission to search it.

Dutschke said he had worked with Curtis’ brother, Jack, but not with Kevin.

“He almost had my sympathy,” the former legislative candidate said, alluding to his own legal problems with three Lee County indictments against him on fondling charges.

He also admitted to what he termed a brief confrontation with Curtis in 2010, claiming Curtis posted a Mensa certificate on his MySpace site. Dutschke said it was a fraud and ultimately was removed.

Curtis’ hearing resumes today.