The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

April 18, 2013

Mississippi man arrested for mailing suspected ricin

CORINTH, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man accused of mailing letters with suspected ricin to national leaders believed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market and claimed "various parties within the government" were trying to ruin his reputation.

Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line. He was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss., a booking officer, who declined to give his name, said Thursday. It was not immediately known what charges Curtis faced.

Curtis had been living in Corinth since December, but local police had not had any contact with him prior to his arrest, Corinth Police Dept. Captain Ralph Dance told The Associated Press on Thursday. Dance said the department aided the FBI during the arrest and that Curtis did not resist being taken into custody. Since Corinth arrived in the town, he had been living in "government housing," Dance said. He did not elaborate.

Authorities were waiting for definitive tests on intercepted letters that were addressed to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. 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.

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 bombing. As authorities scurried to investigate three questionable packages discovered in Senate office buildings Wednesday, reports of suspicious items also came in from at least three senators' offices in their home states. The items were found to be harmless.

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