The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

April 24, 2013

2nd Miss. man investigated in ricin case

(Continued)

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," Dutschke said.

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.

Tuesday's events began when the third day of a preliminary and detention hearing was canceled 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 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 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.

___

Wagster Pettus reported from Jackson. Associated Press writers Holbrook Mohr in Oxford, Jack Elliott in Jackson, Miss., and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.

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