Charges dropped against Miss. man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to Obama, other lawmakers

Authorities search home of another Miss. man

TUPELO, Miss. - Charges have been dropped against a Mississippi man accused of sending letters containing ricin poison to President Barack Obama and other public officials.

A one-sentence federal court filing concerning the case was filed Tuesday, hours after Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was released from custody. The document says the ongoing investigation has revealed new but unspecified information.

Curtis spoke after the charges were dropped. He says he respects President Barack Obama, loves his country and that he "would never do anything to pose a threat."

Curtis says this week has been a nightmare.

Meanwhile, authorities on Tuesday searched the home of another Mississippi man in connection with the case.

Curtis was arrested last week at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line. He was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss. An FBI agent had testified in court that no evidence of ricin was found at Curtis's home.

An affidavit said the letters sent to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a judge in Mississippi told the recipients: "Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die."

The material discovered in a letter to Wicker has been confirmed through field testing and laboratory testing to contain ricin, said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer. The FBI has not yet reported the results of its own testing of materials sent to Wicker and to President Obama.

"Our field tests indicate it was ricin. Our lab tests confirm it was ricin. So I don't get why others are continuing to use equivocal words about this," Gainer said.

Preliminary field tests can often show false positives for ricin. Ricin is derived from the castor plant that makes castor oil. There is no antidote, and it's deadliest when inhaled. The material sent to Wicker was not weaponized, Gainer said.

An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said the two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.

Both letters 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."

The letters had Washington on edge in the days after the Boston Marathon bombings. As authorities scurried to investigate three questionable packages discovered in Senate office buildings last week, reports of suspicious items also came in from at least three senators' offices in their home states. The items were found to be harmless.

In addition, a Mississippi state lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, said last week that his 80-year-old mother, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, received a threatening letter last week with a substance that has been sent to a lab for testing. He said this letter was also signed "K.C."

"She opened it herself" on April 11 and told Holland about it three days later, Holland said.

He said she had not been to the doctor, but he planned to take her Thursday.

"She's fine," Holland said. "She's had no symptoms."

 

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