Did a man with a grudge against an Elvis impersonator frame him for sending poison letters to President Barack Obama?
That's the newest line of investigation for police in Mississippi, after charges against said impersonator were dropped on Tuesday.
Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was released from a Mississippi jail on Tuesday and charges against him were dropped, nearly a week after authorities charged him with sending ricin-laced letters to the President, Mississippi's Republican senator Roger Wicker and 80-year-old Justice Court judge, Sadie Holland.
A federal judge dismissed the case "without prejudice," meaning prosecutors could, in theory, reinstate the charges if they later find more evidence. Authorities have not said why they dropped the charges, and his lawyers say they're not sure what new evidence the FBI has found.
Earlier, authorities had searched the home of 41-year-old Everett Dutschke in Tupelo, north-east Mississippi. And yesterday, they they searched a martial arts studio he used to run. Dutschke hasn't been arrested or charged, but investigators in gas masks, gloves and plastic suits emerged carrying buckets full of items covered in large plastic bags. Once outside, others started spraying their protective suits with some sort of mist.
Dutschke's attorney said he is cooperating fully with investigators and that no arrest warrant had been issued.
Curtis, who performs as Elvis and other celebrities, described a long feud between himself and Dutschke, but said he's not sure exactly what started it. Dutschke insists he had nothing to do with the letters, which contained language identical to that found on Curtis' Facebook page and other websites, making him an early suspect.
Both men say they have met Wicker, and they each have a connection to Holland, who received one of the ricin letters.
Authorities say the letters were mailed on April 8, but the one sent to Holland was the only one to make it into the hands of an intended target. Her son Steve Holland, said his mother did a "smell test" of the envelope and a substance in it irritated her nose. Mr Holland himself is a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, who defeated Dutschke in a one-sided 2007 election.
The judge was not harmed by what authorities say was a crudely made form of the poison, which is derived from castor beans.
Holland was presiding judge in a case in which Curtis was accused of assaulting a Tupelo attorney in 2003. She sentenced Curtis to six months in the county jail, of which he served only part, according to his brother.
Holland said earlier this week that his mother made Dutschke get down on his knees at the 2007 rally and apologize, but on Wednesday, he said he was mistaken about her telling Dutschke to kneel.
"She just got up and said 'Sir, you will apologize," he said.
Dutschke told Associated Press on Tuesday that he has no problem with Sadie Holland. "Everybody loves Sadie, including me," he said.
Curtis said he and Dutschke worked together at his brother's insurance office years ago, and that Dutschke told him he owned a newspaper and showed interest in publishing his book called "Missing Pieces," about what Curtis considers an underground market to sell body parts.
But Dutschke decided not to publish the material, Curtis said, and later began stalking him on the Internet.
Dutschke, a former martial arts instructor, said he didn't even know Curtis that well.
"He almost had my sympathy until I found out that he was trying to blame somebody else," Dutschke said on Monday. "I've known he was disturbed for a long time. Last time we had any contact with each other was at some point in 2010 when I threatened to sue him for fraud for posting a Mensa certificate that is a lie. He is not a Mensa member. That certificate is a lie."
Curtis acknowledges posting a fake Mensa certificate on Facebook, but says it was an online trap set up for Dutschke because he believed Dutschke was stalking him online. He knew Dutschke also claimed to be a member of the organization for people with high IQs. Dutschke had a Mensa email address during his 2007 legislative campaign.
Dutschke started a campaign to prove him a liar, Curtis said, and allegedly harassed him through emails and social networking.
Curtis said the two agreed to meet at one point to face off in person, but Dutschke didn't show up.
"The last email I got from him, was, 'Come back tomorrow at 7 and the results of you being splattered all over the pavement will be public for the world to see what a blank, blank, blank you are.' And then at that point, I knew I was dealing with a coward," Curtis said.
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