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"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.
Wicker: Possible ricin suspect Elvis impersonator
Sen. Roger Wicker says he once hired the man accused of mailing suspicious letters as an Elvis impersonator.
The Mississippi Republican said he hired Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Miss., to entertain at an engagement party. The 45-year-old Curtis faces charges stemming from sending threatening letters containing suspected ricin, a poison, to President Barack Obama, Wicker and a Mississippi judge.
Curtis wore shackles and a Johnny Cash T-shirt Thursday in a federal courtroom in Mississippi. His attorney, Christi R. McCoy says her client is surprised by his arrest and maintains “100 percent that he did not do this.” A judge has set a preliminary hearing for Friday.
An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said the two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.
A Mississippi state lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, said his 80-year-old mother, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, received a threatening letter April 10 with a substance that has been sent to a lab for testing. He said this letter was also signed "K.C."
"Like any country woman, she did a smell test," Steve Holland said. "She said, ‘It sort of burned my nose a little bit.’"
He said once she read the letter, she immediately called the local sheriff.
Sadie Holland has been "sequestered by the FBI" and told not to talk to anybody for now, and is undergoing medical tests, her son said.
In Curtis’ neighborhood Thursday, Melissa Strickland said two men who identified themselves as being with the FBI asked her about the man next door. She said they never identified Curtis by name.
"They asked me if I saw a lot of people coming and going from his house," she said. "I told them, "No."
Ricky Curtis said his family was shocked by the news of the arrest. He said his cousin had written about problems he had with a cleaning business and that he felt the government had not treated him well, but he said nobody in the family would have expected this. He said the writings were titled, "Missing Pieces."
"I don’t think anybody had a clue that this kind of stuff was weighing on his mind," Ricky Curtis said in a telephone interview.
A MySpace page for a cleaning company called The Cleaning Crew confirms that they "do windows" and has profile photo of "Kevin Curtis, Master of Impressions." A YouTube channel under the name of Kevin Curtis has dozens of videos of him performing as different famous musicians, including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Kid Rock.
Multiple online posts on various websites under the name Kevin Curtis refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000.
The author wrote that the conspiracy began when he "discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue of the largest non-metropolitan health care organization in the United States of America."
Curtis wrote that he was trying to "expose various parties within the government, FBI, police departments" for what he believed was "a conspiracy to ruin my reputation in the community as well as an ongoing effort to break down the foundation I worked more than 20 years to build in the country music scene."
In one post, Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians.
"I never heard a word from anyone. I even ran into Roger Wicker several different times while performing at special banquets and fundraisers in northeast, Mississippi but he seemed very nervous while speaking with me and would make a fast exit to the door when I engaged in conversation..."
Jim Waide, an attorney in Tupelo, Miss., said he was working with Curtis’ family Thursday to put together a statement about the man. Waide said the family told him Curtis has been diagnosed as bipolar and was put on medication about three years ago. "It’s been a real problem to keep him on his medication," Waide said in a phone interview from Tupelo.
"He has a long history of mental illness," Waide said. "When he is on his medication, he is terrific, he’s nice, he’s functional. When he’s off his medication, that’s when there’s a problem."
Waide represented Curtis in a federal lawsuit he filed in August 2000 against North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. Curtis claimed employment discrimination. A judge dismissed the case in July 2001. Records show it was "dismissed for failure to prosecute."
Court records show Waide got a judge’s permission to withdraw as Curtis’ attorney in January 2001. Waide said he withdrew from the case because Curtis didn’t trust him.Next Page >
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