SALTILLO, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man whose home and business were searched as part of an investigation into poisoned letters sent to the president and others has dropped out of sight in order to escape the news media spotlight, but is cooperating with authorities, a friend and his attorney said.
Everett Dutschke, 41, had his home and former business in Tupelo, Miss., 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, Sadie Holland.
Charges were initially filed against an Elvis impersonator but then dropped. Attention then turned to Dutschke, who has ties to the former suspect and the judge and senator.
Dutschke (pronounced DUHS'-kee), who previously had kept in touch with reporters from The Associated Press, did not answer or return calls to his cellphone Thursday, a day investigators spent searching a different home where he had spent time a day earlier about 20 miles from Tupelo.
He just needed to get away from all the news media attention, his friend Kirk Kitchens told the AP. "I just helped him get out of the spotlight," Kitchens said at his home in nearby Saltillo.
Kitchens said he and Dutschke stayed at a home for a while Wednesday before slipping out through the woods to rendezvous with someone who drove Dutschke elsewhere.
Earlier in the week, as investigators searched his primary residence in Tupelo, Dutschke had remarked to reporters, "I don't know how much more of this I can take."
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 she said continues to cooperate with investigators.
Investigators spent much of the day Thursday investigating the second home as a plane circled overhead. Earlier in the day, Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said agents told him Dutschke had been under surveillance, but authorities weren't sure where he had gone.