An envelope addressed to Sen Ron Wicker (R- Mississippi) tested positive for the lethal poison ricin twice on Tuesday, according to the FBI. The fact that it came so soon after the Boston Marathon bombings heightened concerns over terrorism.
"This matter is part of an ongoing investigation by the United States Capitol Police and FBI," Wicker said. "I want to thank our law enforcement officials for their hard work and diligence in keeping those of us who work in the Capitol complex safe."Preliminary tests on a letter mailed to President Obama that was intercepted at an off-site facility later that day had also indicated traces of ricin. At a press conference in Tupelo, MS on Wednesday night, the Lee County Sherriff said that a local judge had also recieved a similar suspicious letter.
Terrance W. Gainer, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, said in an emailed message to Senate offices that the envelope to Wicker, a Republican, had no obviously suspicious outside markings and lacked a return address. It bore a postmark from Memphis, Tenn.
Mail from a broad swath of northern Mississippi, including the Memphis suburbs of DeSoto County, Miss., Tupelo, Oxford and the northern part of the Mississippi Delta region is processed and postmarked in Memphis, according to a Postal Service map. The Memphis center also processes mail for residents of western parts of Tennessee and eastern Arkansas.
Authorities reportedly traced back the letters to a 45 year old Corinth, MS man named Paul Kevin Curtis who was arrested at his home by federal agents.
The letters to Obama and Wicker said: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."In 2000, Curtis was fired from the North Mississippi Medical Center and since then has claimed that he had uncovered a conspiracy by the hospital to harvest organs and body parts and sell them on the black market. Not surprisingly, NMMC denies the allegations made by the suspected ricin mailer.
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."
According to The Hill Curtis once performed at a party attended by Wicker [who represented the district in the House at the time- NANESB!] and when Curtis' activites were less threatening.
Curtis- a registered Democrat- could face up to 15 years on charges of sending mail threatening the President and sending mail "containing threats to injure the person of others".