Miss ricin
Image: Rogelio V. Solis, AP

A Mississippi man whose home and business were searched as part of an investigation into poisoned letters sent to the president and others has dropped out of sight in order to escape the news media spotlight, but is cooperating with authorities, a friend and his attorney said.

Everett Dutschke, 45, had his home and former business in Tupelo, Miss., searched in connection with the letters, which allegedly contained ricin. They were sent last week to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and earlier to an 80-year-old Mississippi judge, Sadie Holland.

Charges were initially filed against an Elvis impersonator but then dropped. Attention then turned to Dutschke, who has ties to the former suspect and the judge and senator.

Dutschke, who previously had kept in touch with reporters from The Associated Press, did not answer or return calls to his cellphone Thursday, a day investigators spent searching a different home where he had spent time a day earlier about 20 miles from Tupelo.

He just needed to get away from all the news media attention, his friend Kirk Kitchens told the AP. “I just helped him get out of the spotlight,” Kitchens said at his home in nearby Saltillo.

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