By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
A Tupelo 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. Breaking news updates below …
7:41 p.m. – A friend of J. Everett Dutschke’s told The Associated Press that both he and Dutschke stayed at a home in Itawamba County 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.
2:06 p.m. – Lori Nail Basham, Dutschke’s attorney, said she has reported J. Everett Dutschke’s location to the FBI where he is and it is acceptable. There is no warrant for his arrest, Basham said.
UPDATES: 1:13 p.m. – Lori Nail Basham, Dutschke’s attorney, confirmed to the Daily Journal’s Sarah Robinson that he (Dutschke) has been at the Kitchens’ home in Itawamba county at some point earlier this week. Basham said she has regularly been in contact with Dutschke.
1 p.m. – The search at the Itawamba County residence is over and authorities have left, Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said. The Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department assisted the FBI.
Dickinson said it was reported J. Everett Dutschke and Kirk Kitchens went to the home at 9 last night. That hasn’t been confirmed. Kirk Kitchens is not a suspect in the letter investigation according to what he knows Dickinson said.
Dickinson says he is helping the FBI, which told him Dutschke had been under surveillance but slipped away on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. Dutschke’s attorney later said she had told the FBI where he was and it was acceptable.
FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden would not comment on the search to The Associated Press.
12:30 p.m. – Itawamba Sheriff Department is searching the property now.
9:30 a.m. – Itawamba County officials confirmed to Adam Armour of the Itawamba County Times that the FBI is preparing to search a home in the Ozark community in northwest Itawamba County. They are waiting on a search warrant.
Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said authorities have been in the area since last night. A man outside the home identified himself to the Daily Journal as the owner and said his name is Melvin Kitchens of Pontotoc. He said his grandson a 13-year-old was a former karate student of J. Everett Dutschke. Melvin Kitchens said his son is Kirk Kitchens. Melvin Kitchens said the home in Itawamba County is a weekend residence he goes to visit.
“I don’t know why they are here,” Melvin Kitchens said. “This is a wild goose chase.”
Several law enforcement have been visible since last night on the 20 mile Bottom Road area.
More on this as it develops.
TUPELO – Federal agents spent a second day at a former local martial arts studio searching for clues that could tie a Tupelo man to the ricin-filled letters addressed to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Agents arrived at Tupelo Taekwondo Plus on Rankin Boulevard, just south of West Main Street, before 11 a.m. Wednesday and searched the building throughout the day.
The structure is where James Everett Dutschke, a man who’s home was searched by the FBI on Tuesday, taught martial arts.
Once the search was under way, police put out an alert for a green 1998 Dodge Caravan, saying it was related to the FBI investigation.
Dutschke has a green 1998 Dodge Caravan registered under his name in Lee County.
At 3:15 p.m., he arrived on the scene of the search. He was taken aside where it appeared he was questioned while agents performed a search on the van.
Dutschke did not return Daily Journal phone calls or text messages Wednesday, but his attorney said he took the van to the scene of the investigation so agents could search it as they did his other vehicle Tuesday night.
“I have been in contact with Mr. Dutschke throughout the day,” said attorney Lori Nail Basham at 3:51 p.m. “He is still cooperating. We have complied with all their requests. They have told me within the past hour or so there has been no warrant issued for his arrest.”
Dutschke became a person of interest in the ricin letter investigation when the attorney of the original suspect, Kevin Curtis of Corinth, mentioned his name during a hearing Monday.
Dutschke said he had been cooperating with the FBI since they contacted him the previous week. He said he suspects his name was one given to the FBI by Curtis’ ex-wife when the FBI asked for names of people who could have framed Curtis.
The main evidence that tied Curtis to the letters was a post he made on Facebook that was identical to the letters and the signature, “This is KC and I approve this message.”
Charges against Curtis were dropped late Tuesday and he has been released from police custody.
The Dutschke searches began just after 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. He said he met with two federal agents Tuesday morning and agreed to let them search his home. Tuesday’s search lasted until 11 p.m.
Federal agents have yet to comment on their interest and ongoing investigation into Dutschke.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.