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Ricin suspect released, as FBI shifts to new 'person of interest' (+video)

Ricin suspect Paul Kevin Curtis said, after his release: 'I thought they said rice.' Curtis's attorney says her client was framed. Federal investigators are looking into potential enemies.

By Correspondent / April 24, 2013

Paul Kevin Curtis (l.), who had been in custody under suspicion of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and others, hugs his attorney, Christi McCoy, during a news conference after his release Tuesday. The FBI is investigating a second suspect.

Bruce Newman/Oxford Eagle/AP


Federal prosecutors on Tuesday dropped the charges against a Mississippi man accused of sending poisonous letters to President Obama and two other government officials, as the FBI inspected the home of a second suspect.

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Staff writer

Allison Terry works on the web team at the Christian Science Monitor, coordinating online infographics. She contributes to the culture section and Global News blog, and previously reported and edited for the national news and cover page desks.

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Charges have been dropped against a man arrested in the case of letters laced with ricin. CBS News' Mark Strassmann reports on why investigators are zeroing in on someone else.

Officials did not cite specific reasons for dropping criminal charges against Paul Kevin Curtis, a part-time Elvis impersonator from Corinth, Miss., but a court document said the “ongoing investigation has revealed new information,” reported The New York Times. A pretrial hearing in the case against him, which was under way, was canceled.

The FBI had testified Monday that no physical evidence of ricin or ricin-making materials had been found in Mr. Curtis’s residence or vehicle. Last week, letters addressed to Mr. Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker (R) of Mississippi, and a county judge in Mississippi, Sadie Holland, tested positive for ricin, a deadly biological toxin made from castor beans.

“I thought they said rice and I said, 'I don't even eat rice,' “ Curtis said at a press conference after his release, referring to investigators’ questions. He added, “I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other US official.”

Since Curtis's arrest on April 17, his attorneys said their client did not send the letters and suggested that he was being framed. Defense attorney Hal Neilson said they gave a list of Curtis’s potential enemies to authorities.

J. Everett Dutschke, whose house and property the FBI searched Tuesday, is on the list.

“Dutschke came up,” Mr. Neilson told the Associated Press. “[The prosecutors] took it and ran with it. I could not tell you if he's the man or he's not the man, but there was something there they wanted to look into.”


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