Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Focus Shifts in Ricin Case as Suspect Is Released

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Focus Shifts in Ricin Case as Suspect Is Released

Article excerpt

Criminal charges have been dropped against a Mississippi man accused of mailing poisoned letters to President Barack Obama and two other officials.

Criminal charges have been dropped against a Mississippi man accused of mailing poisoned letters to President Barack Obama and two other officials.

One day after the F.B.I. said it could find no evidence that the man, Paul Kevin Curtis, was behind the plot, a federal judge released him from jail Tuesday and the authorities shifted focus to another person of interest in the case.

Lawyers for Mr. Curtis, 45, an impersonator of celebrities, said he had been framed by a longtime personal enemy, J. Everett Dutschke, a martial arts instructor from Tupelo, Mississippi. F.B.I. agents raided Mr. Dutschke's house but did not immediately bring charges against him. Mr. Dutschke, reached by phone, denied involvement but did not elaborate.

At a news conference after his release, Mr. Curtis said he did not harbor any ill feelings toward prosecutors or the president and was relieved to be free. "I respect President Obama," he said. "I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official."

Mr. Curtis, a party entertainer who dresses and sings as Elvis Presley, Prince, Johnny Cash, Jon Bon Jovi and others, had been in jail since April 18. He said Tuesday he had never even heard of ricin. "I thought they said rice," he said. "I said I don't even eat rice."

This month, Mr. Obama; Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi; and Sadie Holland, a judge in Lee County, Mississippi, received threatening letters postmarked Memphis, Tennessee, and filled with a white powder. Tests confirmed it was ricin, a poison made from castor beans that can be lethal.

The letters read: "Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. This must stop. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." They were signed: "I am KC and I approve this message," a phrase that Mr. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.