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Freed poison letter suspect: 'I had never heard of ricin'

April 25, 2013 at 7:30 AM ET

A Mississippi man was released from custody this week after charges he sent ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, a congressman and a judge were dropped.

On TODAY Thursday, he said he had no idea what authorities were talking about when they apprehended him.

"I had never heard of ricin,'' Paul Kevin Curtis told Savannah Guthrie. "I thought they said ‘rice,’ and I said ‘I don’t eat rice.’ I said, ‘Here’s the key to my home. You can go in and search, there’s no ricin in my house.'

"They said, 'You know what we're talking about.' They were very angry. It’s like they knew they had the right guy immediately."

Federal officials dismissed the charges, which alleged that he sent ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, Mississippi senator Roger Wicker and a Mississippi county judge, because of an ongoing investigation that has revealed new information, according to a court filing on Tuesday. Curtis, 45, said he was in custody for two days before he was informed of the official charges.

"I guess it was some type of interrogation,'' he said. "They wanted to see if I would actually just say something, just give the information. It was more of an attack like, ‘We know you did it, you know you did it, don’t deny, you know what you did.’ I didn’t know what I'm here for."

An FBI search of his Mississippi home found no evidence of ricin. Curtis, who works as an Elvis impersonator, was released on Tuesday after spending nearly a week in jail. He described the chaotic arrest in his driveway on April 17.

"It happened in probably three seconds,'' Curtis said. "There were like 20 armed cars and machine guns and hoods and Homeland Security and FBI. It was unreal."

Curtis and his attorney, Christi McCoy, asserted that he had been framed. The home of another man, J. Everett Dutschke, was searched by the FBI on Tuesday. Curtis and Dutschke have a contentious history.

"I have a hunch,'' Curtis said of his alleged framing. "You never really know because I've been a vocal online activist for many years and I've signed the same signature for 15 years. Whoever was watching me, they knew the kind of things I put in my (online posts)."

"When I met with (Curtis) and I talked to him, and after having done this a really long time, you just get a gut (feeling),'' McCoy said about her choice to represent Curtis. "I just caught a gut."

On the day of the search, Dutschke told the Jackson Clarion Ledger, “I guess Kevin got desperate. I feel like he’s getting away with the perfect crime.”

Language used in the letters sent to lawmakers was similar to language Curtis had used in missives to other elected officials. They ended with “I am KC and I approve this message,’’ a signoff that Curtis regularly uses on Facebook and other online posts. A signature that he uses on his emails that reads "To see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance" was also found on the letters, which Curtis claimed was copied and pasted.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Curtis claimed he had been the focus of law enforcement because of previous writings about organ trafficking while also plugging a book he is trying to get published.


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