The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

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April 24, 2013

Charges dropped in ricin letters sent to Obama

TUPELO, Miss. —  Charges of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others were dropped Tuesday against an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi who has said since his arrest last week that he had nothing to do with the case.

Meanwhile, in Tupelo, numerous law enforcement officers, including some in hazmat suits, converged on the home of another Mississippi man, Everett Dutschke. At around 11 p.m. CDT, they concluded a 10-hour search of the man's property and nearby ditches and culverts. Investigators declined to say afterward what if anything they had found.

No charges have been filed against Dutschke and he hasn't been arrested. Both Dutschke and 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis, who had faced charges in the case, say they have no idea how to make the poisonous ricin and had nothing to do with sending them to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and a state judge.

Referring to officials' questions for him about the case, Curtis said after he was released from custody Tuesday afternoon, "I thought they said rice and I said, 'I don't even eat rice.'"

"I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official," Curtis added.

A one-sentence document filed by federal prosecutors said charges against Curtis were dropped, but left open the possibility they could be re-instated if authorities found more to prove their case. Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

The dismissal is the latest twist in a case that rattled the country already on edge over two deadly incidents, the Boston Marathon bombing and the plant explosion in West, Texas.

Curtis was well-known to Wicker because he had written to the Republican senator and other officials about black-market body parts he claimed to have found while working at a hospital — a claim the hospital says is untrue. Curtis also wrote a book called "Missing Pieces" about his claims and posted similar language on his Facebook page and elsewhere. The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years.

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