On Tuesday, when Curtis walked out of jail a free man, law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they believed he was being framed.
Enter Dutschke. He and Curtis have a fraught history, seemingly played out almost entirely online. After Curtis was released from custody last week, he said he and Dutschke had had a falling-out and that Curtis had challenged Dutschke to a fight that never occurred.
According to acquaintances, Curtis believed that Dutschke had reneged on an offer to help him publish an article about the alleged conspiracy to sell human body parts.
Dutschke said last week that he and Curtis had gotten into a dispute a few years ago when Curtis claimed to be a member of Mensa, the club for people with high IQs. Dutschke asked Curtis to remove that claim from his Facebook page and threatened to sue him if he didn’t.
Dutschke expressed consternation that he was being looked at as a suspect in the ricin case. “I feel like he’s getting away with the perfect crime,” Dutschke said of Curtis in a phone interview last week with the Jackson Clarion Ledger, a Mississippi newspaper.
Dutschke went into hiding on Thursday to escape the media attention. The FBI and local law enforcement officials spent five hours hunting for him before his attorney revealed her client’s location. Agents spent more than 10 hours earlier in the week searching his home and continued the search at a martial-arts studio, Tupelo Taekwondo Plus, that Dutschke had been operating. The studio closed in January when Dutschke became the target of a child-molestation investigation.
A grand jury indicted him this month. The alleged victim is a 7-year-old girl who had visited his studio, his attorney, Basham, said. Dutschke has denied sexual contact with the girl.
Though the ricin case seems to have emerged from a small-time feud between a couple of eccentrics, the government response has been robust. Among the government agencies that joined the FBI in the investigation were the Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Capitol Police, the counterterrorism section of the Justice Department’s national security division, the Mississippi National Guard, the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security and multiple county and city law enforcement units.
Dutschke is scheduled to appear Monday in federal court in Oxford.
Alice Crites and Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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