Police Say They Found Ricin at New Suspect's Martial Arts Studio

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 30 2013 5:28 PM

The Government's New Ricin Case Looks Much Stronger Than Its Old One

52629598
Authorities say that the ricin sent to Washington was made by grinding up castor beans, seen here in a pink box

File photo by Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Authorities last week dropped charges against Paul Kevin Curtis, the 45-year-old Elvis impersonator they had originally accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and a Republican senator. They then turned their attention to a second suspect: J. Everett Dutschke, a man described by the Washington Post as Curtis' "longtime antagonist in a small-town Mississippi feud" and who has since been arrested.

(As we explained at the time, the paper had a number of other descriptors to choose from as well, including: alleged child molester, onetime political hopeful, martial arts instructor, and self-proclaimed Mensa member.)

Advertisement

Working against the government's original case against Curtis was the fact that investigators believe that the ricin in the letters was made by crudely chopping castor beans in a food processor or blender—authorities, however, found neither device in Curtis' home. Likewise, the police also found no trace of the poison in his home or car, and no Internet searches for how to make the drug on his computer. Based on court document made public today, authorities haven't run into the same problems this time around. The Associated Press:

The affidavit said that on April 22, Dutschke removed several items from his former martial arts studio in Tupelo, including a dust mask, which tested positive for ricin. Trace amounts also were found in the studio, and Dutschke bought castor beans on the Internet, the document said. The beans can be used to make ricin.

Dutschke has denied involvement in the mailing of the letters. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 24 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Partial Solar Eclipse of October 2014
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.