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Tests link ricin to letter suspect

FBI says traces found in former martial arts suite

– Ricin was found in the former martial arts studio of the man suspected of sending poison letters to President Obama and other public officials and was also discovered on a dust mask and other items he allegedly threw in the trash, federal prosecutors said in a court document made public Tuesday.

The affidavit says an FBI surveillance team saw James Everett Dutschke remove several items from the studio in Tupelo, Miss., on April 22 and dump them in a trash bin about 100 yards down the street.

Traces of ricin were found in the studio, and Dutschke used the Internet to buy castor beans, from which ricin is derived, the affidavit said.

Annette Dobbs, who owns the small shopping center where the studio was located, said authorities padlocked the door to the studio. She said FBI agents haven’t told her whether the building poses a health threat. Inside the studio is one large room with a smaller reception area.

Dutschke, 41, was arrested Saturday at his home in Tupelo. He is being held without bond pending a preliminary and detention hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Oxford.

The FBI searched his home, vehicles and studio last week, often while wearing hazardous materials suits.

Attention turned to Dutschke after prosecutors dropped charges against an Elvis impersonator who says he had feuded with Dutschke in the past.

Dutschke told The Associated Press last week that he didn’t send the letters. His lawyer, federal public defender George Lucas, had no comment about the affidavit.

Dutschke was arrested as part of the investigation into poison-tainted letters sent to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County, Miss., Judge Sadie Holland.

The affidavit said numerous documents found in Dutschke’s home had “trashmarks” that were similar to ones on the letters sent to the officials.

“Trashmarks are flaws or marks that come from dirt, scratches, or other marks on the printer,” it said.

It also describes text messages allegedly sent between two phones subscribed to Dutschke’s wife, including one April 20 that said “get a fire going” and “we’re coming over to burn some things.”

A Senate official has said the ricin was not weaponized. If inhaled, ricin can cause respiratory failure, among other symptoms. No antidote exists.

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