The investigation into the mailing of poisonous letters has turned from an Elvis impersonator to his taekwondo-teaching "bluesman" rival, and turned the entire case into a tangled mess of ridiculousness. Yesterday, federal prosecutors dropped all charges against Paul Kevin Curtis, the man who was originally suspected of sending letters laced with ricin to several political figures, including the President. After his release, the professional Elvis impersonator suggested that he might have been set up by an old friend—a man with backstory even more odd than his.
FBI agents have also spoken to and searched the house of J. Everrett Dutschke, a fellow Mississippian who appears to have feuded with Curtis in the past, and is now also embroiled in the investigation. Hunter Walker at TalkingPointMemo tried to piece together Dutschke's history, but came up with more questions than answers. His unusual biography includes:
- Running a taekwondo studio in his hometown of Tupelo (which is also Elvis's hometown, of course.)
- Fronting a band called "Dusty and the Robodrum," a loop-rock band with "tons of lasers."
- Recording a "loud, heavy, powerful and steamy" album with guest drums from a member of Pearl Jam
- Selling insurance as "the insurance warrior"
- Half-heartedly campaigning for a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives (and losing.)
While the circumstantial evidence against Curtis seemed suspicious, there's some less amusing details pointing suspicion on Dutshcke as well. A Mississippi state judge who also received a ricin letter is the mother of the State Representative who beat him in that 2007 campaign. Dutschke was also arrested in January on a charge of child molestation and is currently out on a $1 million bond.
Dutschke's behavior in that election was pretty bizarre, as well. His opponent claims his strategy was 100 percent negative attacks and his one online "ad" that's still on YouTube features a unidentified out-of-breath kid handing him Rubik's Cube, which he "solves" to prove he's a problem solver. Get it? (Anyone with even a marginal understanding of magical misdirection will also notice that Dutschke switches Cubes before pulling off the trick.)
No new charges or arrests have been made since Curtis was released, and the only thing that seems remotely authentic is that he and Dutschke don't like each other and are each accusing the other of being the real culprit. Dutschke told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, "I guess Kevin got desperate. I feel like he’s getting away with the perfect crime." At this point, it's doubtful that either one is capable of pulling of a sophisticated biological weapon attack, but they've certainly given investigators plenty to keep them occupied.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.