Charges dropped against Kevin Curtis over ricin-laced letters sent to Obama and others

 

Charges of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others were dropped yesterday against an Elvis Presley impersonator from Mississippi who has said since his arrest last week that he had nothing to do with the case.

Meanwhile, in Tupelo, numerous law enforcement officers converged on the home of another Mississippi man, Everett Dutschke, including some in hazardous material suits. No charges have been filed against him and he hasn't been arrested. Both men say they have no idea how to make the poisonous ricin and had nothing to do with sending them to Obama, US Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi and a state judge.

Referring to officials' questions for him about the case, "I thought they said rice and I said I don't even eat rice," 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis said after he was released from custody yesterday afternoon. "I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other US official."

A one-sentence document filed by federal prosecutors said charges against Curtis were dropped, but left open the possibility they could be re-instated if authorities found more to prove their case. Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

The dismissal is the latest twist in a case that rattled the country already on edge over the Boston Marathon bombing last week.

Curtis was well-known to Wicker because he had written to the Republican and other officials about black-market body parts he claimed to have found while working at a hospital — a claim the hospital says is untrue. Curtis also wrote a book called Missing Pieces about his claims and posted similar language on his Facebook page and elsewhere. The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years.

He told The Associated Press that he realizes his writings made him an easy target.

"God will get the glory from here on out. It's nothing about me. It's nothing about my book. It's nothing about the hospital. After 13 years of losing everything I have turned it over to God. After all these years God was the missing piece," Curtis said.

The two men the FBI are investigating are not strangers. Dutschke said the two had a falling out and that the last contact they had was in 2010. Dutschke said he threatened to sue Curtis for saying he was a member of Mensa, a group for people with high IQs.

Since Curtis' arrest at his Corinth home on April 17, his attorneys have said their client didn't do it and suggested he was framed. An FBI agent testified in court this week that no evidence of ricin was found in searches of Curtis' home.

Dutschke said in a phone interview with the AP that the FBI was at his home for the search connected to the mailings. Dutschke said his house was also searched last week.

"I don't know how much more of this I can take," Dutschke said.

Curtis attorney Hal Neilson said the defense gave authorities a list of people who may have had a reason to hurt Curtis.

"Dutschke came up," he said. "They (prosecutors) took it and ran with it. I could not tell you if he's the man or he's not the man, but there was something there they wanted to look into."

An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said the two letters to Obama and Wicker said: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."

Multiple online posts on various websites that could be seen by anyone under the name Kevin Curtis refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000. In one post, Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians. He signed off: "This is Kevin Curtis & I approve this message."

Curtis attorney Christi McCoy said she doesn't know what new information prosecutors have and that the plot to frame her client was "very, very diabolical."

Curtis, dressed in a black suit, red shirt, necktie and sunglasses, said he met Dutschke in 2005 but for some reason Dutschke "hated" and "stalked" him. "To this day I have no clue of why he hates me."

Dutschke has maintained his innocence and says he doesn't know anything about the ingredients for ricin. Ricin is derived from the castor plant that makes castor oil. There is no antidote and it is at its deadliest when inhaled. It can be aerosolized, released into the air and inhaled. The Homeland Security handbook says the amount of ricin that fits on the head of a pin is enough to kill an adult if properly prepared.

Dutschke said agents asked him about Curtis, whether Dutschke would take a lie detector test and if he had ever bought castor beans, which can be used to make the potent poison.

"I'm a patriotic American. I don't have any grudges against anybody. I did not send the letters," said Dutschke, who was a Republican candidate for the Mississippi House of Representatives in 2007 but lost.

After charges were dropped against Curtis, he said: "I'm a little shocked."

Dutschke said his attorney wasn't with him and he didn't know whether he was going to be arrested.

Yesterday's events began when the third day of a preliminary and detention hearing was cancelled without officials explaining the change. Within two hours, Curtis had been released, though it wasn't clear why at first.

FBI Agent Brandon Grant said in court on Monday that searches last week of Curtis' vehicle and house in Corinth, found no ricin, ingredients for the poison, or devices used to make it. A search of Curtis' computers found no evidence he researched making ricin. Authorities produced no other physical evidence at the hearings tying Curtis to the letters.

All the envelopes and stamps were self-adhesive, Grant said on Monday, meaning they won't yield DNA evidence. One fingerprint was found on the letter sent to a Lee County judge, but the FBI doesn't know who it belongs to, Grant said.

The experience, Curtis said, has been a nightmare for his family. He has four children — ages, 8, 16, 18 and 20. It also has made him reflect deeply on his life.

"I've become closer to God through all this, closer with my children and I've even had some strained relationships with some family and cousins and this has brought us closer as a family," he said.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence