Posted Apr 18, 2013 12:00 pm CDT
Updated: Police have arrested a Mississippi man suspected of sending letters containing possible ricin to the president, as well as a senator and justice official in Mississippi.
Police arrested Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Miss., report the Washington Post, USA Today and the New York Times. A Mississippi judge, Sadie Holland of Lee County, says she is the justice official who received the suspicious letter, the Jackson Clarion Ledger reports. The Mississippi senator who received a letter is Roger Wicker.
The three letters were all signed, “I am KC and I approve this message.” Initial tests indicate the sandy substance they contained was ricin. An FBI statement Thursday evening said additional tests indicated that the substance was ricin, but more tests were being conducted, report the Associated Press and CNN.
Holland, 80, said she opened the envelope on April 10. “It just said something to the effect, ‘I tried to talk to you and you would not listen. Now it is time that someone must die,’ ” Holland told the Clarion Ledger.
Holland’s son owns a Tupelo funeral home and is a state representative. “We put on eight funerals since Thursday, and she’s been running strong,” he told the Clarion Ledger.
Holland sentenced Curtis to six months in jail in an assault case stemming from an incident about 10 years ago, AP says.
Two unnamed officials told the Post that Curtis is well known as a frequent letter writer to lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the Clarion Ledger and USA Today have details about online claims made by a man who identified himself as Kevin Curtis. He claimed he had a cleaning contract with a hospital, but he was fired after discovering a “refrigerator full of dismembered body parts and organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue.” Curtis alleged the body parts were used in illegal organ harvesting. Curtis filed a discrimination lawsuit against the hospital, which was dismissed in 2001.
Curtis also wrote that he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians, to no avail. Curtis said he saw Wicker in person when he was entertaining at several events, but the senator “would make a fast exit to the door” when he brought up the case against the hospital.
Ricky Curtis, who identified himself as Curtis’ cousin, said Curtis was a “super entertainer” who impersonated Elvis and other singers, according to USA Today. He said his cousin had problems with his cleaning business and felt he was not treated well by the government, but no one would have expected this. “We’re all in shock,” he told the newspaper.
Curtis appeared in court on Thursday but did not enter a plea. His lawyer said afterwards that her client was surprised by the arrest and “maintains 100 percent that he did not do this.” Family members said he suffered from mental illness.
ABAJournal.com: “Ex-prosecutor recalls screaming fit by ricin suspect; family cites history of mental illness”
Updated on April 19 to include subsequent coverage and later information.