CORINTH, Miss. — A man accused of mailing letters with suspected ricin to national leaders believed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market and claimed “various parties within the government” were trying to ruin his reputation.
Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, is charged with threatening President Barack Obama and others, according to a Thursday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. He is scheduled to appear in federal court on the two charges later Thursday, and if convicted could face up to 15 years in prison
An FBI affidavit also released Thursday said Curtis sent three letters with suspected ricin to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge. The letters read:
“No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still ’Missing Pieces.’ Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. This must stop. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance. I am KC and I approve this message.”
The affidavit says Curtis had sent letters to Wicker’s office several times before with the message “this is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message.”
In several letters to Wicker and other officials, Curtis said he was writing a novel about black market body parts called “Missing Pieces.”
Curtis also had posted language similar to the letters on his Facebook page, the affidavit says.
The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years. In 2007, Curtis’ ex-wife called police to report that her husband was extremely delusional, anti-government and felt the government was spying on him with drones.
Curtis was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, Mississippi.
Curtis had been living in Corinth, a city of about 14,000 in extreme northeastern Mississippi, since December, but local police had not had any contact with him prior to his arrest, Corinth Police Department Capt. Ralph Dance told The Associated Press on Thursday. Dance said the department aided the FBI during the arrest and that Curtis did not resist.
The material discovered in a letter to Wicker has been confirmed through field testing and laboratory testing to contain ricin, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said Thursday. The FBI has not yet reported the results of its own testing of materials sent to Wicker and to President Barack Obama.
“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.
An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said the two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tennessee.
A Mississippi state lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, said Wednesday night that his 80-year-old mother, Judge Sadie Holland, received a threatening letter last week with a substance that has been sent to a lab for testing. He said this letter was also signed “K.C.”
Curtis’ neighbours, who said he did not seem violent, were concerned about their safety Thursday and worried by the idea that someone was making poison in a house that sits so close to their bedrooms and front yards. The one-story, single-family home is similar to the others in the neighbourhood — red brick with white trim.
Ricky Curtis, who said he was Kevin Curtis’ cousin, said the family was shocked by the news of the arrest. He described his cousin as a “super entertainer” who impersonated Elvis and numerous other singers.
“We’re all in shock. 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.
Ricky Curtis 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.”
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…”
Attorney Jim Waide 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.”
The FBI said there was no indication of a connection between the letters and the Monday bombing in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 170. The letters to Obama and Wicker were postmarked April 8, before the marathon.