April 26, 2013 10:45:46 AM
SALTILLO -- As investigators searched a Mississippi man's house earlier this week as part of their probe of poisoned letters sent to the president and others, Everett Dutschke answered reporters' questions but remarked, "I don't know how much more of this I can take."
The answer was apparently: Not much more.
On Thursday, Dutschke (pronounced DUHS'-kee), who has not been charged with a crime, had slipped from public view and stopped talking to the news media as investigators searched a home where he'd spent part of Wednesday. The home is about 20 miles away from his primary residence and former business in Tupelo, which had been searched earlier in connection with the letters that allegedly contained ricin.
Dutschke just needed to get away from all the media attention, a friend told The Associated Press on Thursday. Kirk Kitchens said he and Dutschke stayed at a home for a while Wednesday before slipping out through the woods to rendezvous with someone who drove Dutschke elsewhere.
"I just helped him get out of the spotlight," Kitchens said at his home in nearby Saltillo.
Although Dutschke has apparently gone into hiding, the man's attorney said he is cooperating and the FBI knows how to reach him.
As a plane circled overhead for much of the day, investigators on Thursday looked through the home where Dutschke spent time a day earlier.
Authorities are trying to determine who sent the letters last week to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and earlier to an 80-year-old Mississippi judge named Sadie Holland.
Charges were initially filed against an entertainer who is an Elvis impersonator, but then dropped. Attention then turned to Dutschke, who has ties to the former suspect and the judge and senator.
Dutschke has not been arrested or charged in the letters case. The FBI has said nothing about the building searches or Thursday's developments.
Dutschke's lawyer, Lori Nail Basham, said there is no arrest warrant for her client, who he said continues to cooperate with investigators.
Earlier Thursday, Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said agents told him Dutschke had been under surveillance, but authorities weren't sure where he had gone.