Charges of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others were dropped Tuesday against an Elvis Presley 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 converged on the home of another Mississippi man, Everett Dutschke, including some in hazardous material suits. No charges have been filed against him and he hasn’t been arrested. Both men say they have no idea how to make the poisonous ricin and had nothing to do with sending them to Mr. Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and a state judge.
Referring to officials’ questions for him about the case, “I thought they said rice and I said I don’t even eat rice,” 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis said after he was released from custody Tuesday afternoon. “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.”
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 the Boston Marathon bombing last week.
After charges were dropped against Curtis, he said- “I’m a little shocked.”
Tuesday’s events began when the third day of a preliminary and detention hearing was cancelled without officials explaining the change. Within two hours, Curtis had been released, though it wasn’t clear why at first.
FBI Agent Brandon Grant said in court on Monday that searches last week of Curtis’ vehicle and house in Corinth, found no ricin, ingredients for the poison, or devices used to make it. A search of Curtis’ computers found no evidence he researched making ricin. Authorities produced no other physical evidence at the hearings tying Curtis to the letters.
All the envelopes and stamps were self—adhesive, Grant said Monday, meaning they won’t yield DNA evidence. One fingerprint was found on the letter sent to a Lee County judge, but the FBI doesn’t know who it belongs to, Grant said.
The experience, Curtis said, has been a nightmare for his family. He has four children ages, 8, 16, 18 and 20. It also has made him reflect deeply on his life.
“I’ve become closer to God through all this, closer with my children and I’ve even had some strained relationships with some family and cousins and this has brought us closer as a family,” he said.