But over time the veneer of refinement disintegrated. He was fired by a taekwondo studio and cycled through several other jobs. He started an alternative newspaper that published vitriolic attacks on local politicians. He ran against the longtime state representative from his district and, when he lost, said the election was rigged.
Now the FBI alleges that Dutschke, 41, is the man who mailed the poisonous substance ricin last month to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and the mother of the state representative he ran against — and then tried to frame another man for it. (More ricin-laced letters surfaced in Spokane last week, but the FBI would not disclose details.) Dutschke is in federal custody and has pleaded not guilty to charges of making a biological agent and attempting to use it as a weapon. A grand jury is expected to take up his case this week.
“I’m a patriotic American. I don’t have any grudges against anybody. . . . I did not send the letters,” Dutschke told a swarm of television reporters last month as the FBI searched his home.
If tried and convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. That would be in addition to the 45years he faces if found guilty of fondling three underage girls, which a grand jury charged him with last month.
He has also pleaded not guilty to those charges. His attorneys in both cases declined to comment for this story.
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Mississippi state Rep. Steve Holland, a Democrat who has held his seat for more than 25 years, saw the dark side of Dutschke up close.
“He was an angry, bitter, vindictive person,” Holland said in an interview. “Veins would pop out of his head when he was giving a speech like he was going to pull out an AK-47 and shoot everybody. It was unsettling.”
Dutschke, running on the Republican ticket in 2007, called Holland “The Liberal Undertaker,” a reference to his family’s funeral home. He referred to Holland’s position on illegal immigration as “No Alien Left Behind.” In an online video, he doctored photographs of Holland to make him look like “Boss Hogg,” the corrupt commissioner in the television show “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
When Dutschke lost, he said the election was fixed and in 2008 he ran – this time as a Democrat – to become a Lee County election commissioner. He lost again and published screeds in his newspaper about the corrupt political system.
After the loss, he dropped out of politics, quit his job at an insurance firm and started a blues band called RoboDrum.
“I’d call it ‘Angry Man With a Guitar’ music,” said Melanie Deas, executive director of the Link Centre, a performing arts venue where Dutschke played. “He used lights, strobes and flares. People would come to concerts with glow-in-the-dark Hula Hoops.”