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April 26, 2013

Man named in ricin case goes into hiding

SALTILLO, Miss. — A Mississippi man whose home was searched in the investigation of poisoned letters sent to the president and others has apparently gone into hiding, but his attorney said he is cooperating and the FBI knows how to get in touch with him.

Everett Dutschke, 45, had his home and former business in Tupelo searched in connection with the letters, which allegedly contained ricin. They were sent last week to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and earlier to an 80-year-old Mississippi judge named Sadie Holland.

Charges were initially filed against a celebrity impersonator but then dropped. Attention turned to Dutschke, who has ties to the former suspect and the judge and senator.

On Thursday, investigators looked through a different home about 20 miles away and a plane circled above for much of the day.

A friend of Dutschke’s told The Associated Press that both he and Dutschke stayed at the home for a while Wednesday before slipping out through the woods to rendezvous with someone who drove Dutschke elsewhere. He said Dutschke was just trying to escape the news media.

“I just helped him get out of the spotlight,” Kirk Kitchens said Thursday at his home in nearby Saltillo.

Dutschke has not been arrested or charged in the letters case. The FBI has said nothing about the building searches or Thursday’s developments.

Dutschke’s lawyer, Lori Nail Basham, said there is no arrest warrant for her client, who continues to cooperate with investigators.

Earlier Thursday, Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said agents told him Dutschke had been under surveillance, but authorities weren’t sure where he had gone. He said they were satisfied he was not at the Ozark property.

Dutschke did not answer a call to his cellphone Thursday from the AP. He had previously kept in touch with AP reporters.

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