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Suspect In Ricin Letters Case Could Face Life In Prison (Updated)

NPR icon by Bill Chappell
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Rogelio V. Solis

Federal agents who are investigating poison-laced letters that were sent to President Obama and others have arrested Everett Dutschke, of Tupelo, Miss. The Daily Journal of Tupelo reports that the arrest occurred around 1 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to the president, letters containing the poison ricin were sent to Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi state judge.

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Charges Filed, Court Date Set

Federal charges have been filed against Dutschke, accusing him of possessing biological agent, identified as ricin, and with intending to use it as a weapon.

"If convicted on this charge, Dutschke faces maximum possible penalties of life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and 5 years of supervised release," according to a Department of Justice statement.

He is scheduled to appear in a District Court in Oxford on Monday.

As The Clarion-Ledger reports, Dutschke also faces charges of child molestation. He was indicted for those offenses earlier in April.

Our original post continues:

The FBI, the Capitol Police and other law enforcement personnel have searched Dutschke's property several times in the past two weeks, including Tuesday, when technicians in hazmat suits were sent to his home. Agents also searched his taekwondo studio in Tupelo.

Police "maintained a presence all week in Dutschke's Canal Street neighborhood, setting up an observational parimeter around his home," The Daily Journal reports.

A former political candidate, Dutschke has granted several interviews, including a phone conversation with the AP Tuesday, as he waited for his home to be searched.

"I'm a patriotic American. I don't have any grudges against anybody. I did not send the letters," he said.

As we reported earlier this week, federal authorities released Paul Kevin Curtis and dropped all charges against him Tuesday.

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Curtis Said Dutschke Framed Him:

After his arrest, Curtis and his attorneys said that he'd been framed. The ricin-containing letters included the sentence "This is KC and I approve this message" — similar to the style of an earlier Facebook post by Curtis.

Upon his release Tuesday, Curtis "said he met Dutschke in 2005 but for some reason Dutschke 'hated' and 'stalked' him," the AP reported. "'To this day I have no clue of why he hates me.'"

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