By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – One day before James Everett Dutschke’s arrest, federal investigators asked a judge for warrants on three cellphones they believed he or his wife used while under surveillance.
Documents dated April 25 and made public Thursday also state FBI claims that Dutschke attempted to hide from them shortly before his arrest.
Dutschke, 41, was arrested early April 27 at his South Canal Street home in Tupelo, charged with making ricin, which was mailed April 8 to President Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Thursday, the phone warrant applications were made public, showing investigators wanted 30 days of information related to three phones, including two used by him and Janet A. Cayson, also known as Janet A. Dutschke.
The agents apparently wanted to know who used the phones, when and where.
The former martial arts instructor continues to be held in the Lafayette County Jail awaiting a federal grand jury decision on whether to indict him. He says he is innocent of all charges.
He is the second person arrested in the alleged plot involving ricin and mailed letters.
The first, Elvis tribute artist Kevin Curtis of Corinth, was arrested April 17, jailed and then released April 23 when federal prosecutors realized they had no links between Curtis and ricin.
In the Curtis investigation, though, Dutschke’s name came up as someone who might want to frame Curtis because of a years-long feud.
The new documents say that about 3:30 a.m. April 24, Dutschke and his wife got into their green minivan and went to two different banks where they appeared to withdraw money from ATMs.
After they got home, Dutschke waved at the surveillance team tracking him. When the team re-positioned its vehicles, the van left and wasn’t found until that afternoon at Dutschke’s former martial arts studio, the documents say.
About 8 p.m., Dutschke “appeared to attempt to elude law enforcement” when he crouched in the backseat of a friend’s truck and hid under blankets.
Dutschke and his friend – Kirk Kitchens of Lee County – drove “an evasive route” that took two hours to go 22 miles to a house in Mantachie, the documents said. Dutschke slipped away, prompting a search by law enforcement on the ground and by air, the county sheriff said at the time.
Dutschke was located the next day about 70 miles away in Ashland, but it’s not clear how he got there, the FBI says.
Kitchens told The Associated Press on April 25 that he helped Dutschke sneak off, but Kitchens said he was only helping Dutschke get away from the news media, not law enforcement.
Kitchens said he drove Dutschke to Kitchens’ parents’ house in Mantachie then helped him slip out the back door, through the woods and to a rendezvous point where someone else picked him up.
“I just helped him get out of the spotlight,” Kitchens said at the time.
Authorities say a dust mask that Dutschke removed from his former martial arts studio and dumped in a trash can down the street tested positive for ricin and the DNA of two people, including Dutschke.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted in the ricin case. He’s also facing unrelated charges of child molestation in Lee County.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.