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Mask Recovered From Suspect's Trash Tests Positive For Ricin

FBI agents witnessed J. Everett Dutschke trying to get rid of items authorities say would implicate him with the mailing of ricin-laced letters to President Obama and other officials.

As we've reported, the FBI originally arrested Paul Kevin Curtis in the case, but Curtis told them he was being set up by Dutschke, his rival.

In an affidavit filed in federal court and unsealed today, FBI Special Agent Stephen E. Thomason says the FBI started following Dutschke after a witness said Dutschke mentioned making "poison" and sending it to elected officials.

According to the affidavit, investigators found yellow labels — which seem to match the ones used in the mailed letters — in Dutscke's trash. Investigators also witnessed Dutscke attempt to get rid of some evidence.

Thomason writes:

"After departing the former business location, DUTSCHKE drove a short distance, approximately 100 yards, and was observed discarding several items through the window o f the vehicle into a public garbage receptacle. After DUTSCHKE departed the area, personnel from the Jackson Division ofthe FBI and the Mississippi Office ofHomeland Security recovered the items. Observed inside the garbage receptacle were the following items: the box for a Black and Decker Smart Grind coffee grinder, a box containing latex gloves, a dust mask, and an empty bucket offloor adhesive. Based on my training and experience, I know that a coffee bean grinder could be utilized in the process of extracting ricin from castor beans. Furthermore, latex gloves and a dust mask could be utilized as personal protective equipment while the castor beans are being crushed to protect the producer from an accidental exposure."

When the FBI tested the mask, it came back positive for ricin. According to the affidavit, when authorities searched Dutschke's computer, they found someone using it had downloaded a document titled "Standard Operating Procedure for Ricin."

Two more items of note, detailed in the affidavit:

-- Authorities found ricin in drain traps at Dutshke's former business, Taekwondo Plus.

-- They found that Dutshke ordered castor bean seeds on eBay and paid for them using his PayPal account. They were delivered to his house.

Dutschke is charged with possessing a biological weapon and attempting to use it as a weapon. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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