“I heard the word ‘ricin,’ for the first time in my life, by a federal agent – Homeland Security – while being interrogated for four hours at a federal building in Oxford, and I thought he said ‘rice’. I said, I don’t even eat rice, usually. I’m not even a rice lover.” –Kevin Curtis
While the world was engrossed in the horrors of the Boston bombings and the devastating explosions at a fertilizer factory in Texas last week, a bizarre story was playing out in a federal courtroom in Oxford, MS. Kevin Curtis stood accused of mailing ricin to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), President Obama, and a Justice Court Judge. In a statement written by Kevin Curtis’s brother Jack, it was revealed that Kevin is bipolar and was a “loving, compassionate person” when medicated but refused to take his medicine.
After being in custody for a week, the third day of hearings was canceled and charges against him were dropped.
FBI Agent Brandon Grant said in court on Monday that searches last week of Curtis’ vehicle and house in Corinth, Miss., 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.
Curtis said he was thrilled to be a free man after he had been in custody for a week.
“I would like to thank all my friends and family for their love and support, and of all I would like to thank Jesus Christ,” Curtis said at a press conference. “For the record I have always felt (Wicker) was a good and honest man. … I respect President Obama. I love my country, and I would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official. This past week has been a nightmare for myself and my family.”
Which begs the question, what was the compelling evidence used to arrest him to begin with?
Grant testified that authorities tried to track down the sender of the letters by using a list of Wicker’s constituents with the initials KC, the same initials in the letters. Grant said the list was whittled from thousands to about 100 when investigators isolated the ones who lived in an area that would have a Memphis, Tenn., postmark, which includes many places in north Mississippi. He said Wicker’s staff recognized Curtis as someone who had written the senator before.
Officials tied Curtis to the letters based on wording he had used in previous e-mails and online communication, including his use of the phrase, “This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message.”
Curtis is also reportedly a conspiracy theorist. In a posting on ripoffreport.com, the author wrote the conspiracy began when he “discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts and organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue of the largest non-metropolitan healthcare 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 the lengthy comment purportedly posted in 2007, Curtis claimed that he had sent over one million e-mails at that time to try to draw attention to the organ trafficking. In his complaint, Curtis singles out Roger Wicker as someone he met several times at public gatherings. The post said that Wicker always seemed nervous and made a quick exit when Curtis approached. Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians, signing off with, “This is Kevin Curtis & I approve this message.”
Also, Curtis was convinced of shenanigans regarding the judging of… Elvis impersonator contests. In a comment thread posted in 2007 on goelvis.com, he had this to say:
“I’m a 7 time world finalist in the Images of the King contest but gave up competing in such “contest” long ago as “politics” took over instead of who deserved the crown. I went undercover in 2000 and discovered several Elvis contest in several states which were rigged with hosts and judges getting kick-backs. That just takes the fun out of anything I guess. I found Tupelo, Mississippi to be the most corrupt in all state and I guess I’m not the only one, Consumer reports mag published article last year stating Mississippi as the most corrupt state in all 52 states in the U.S. so go figure! Poor “E” is prob rolling over in his grave! RIP E..we miss ya man! This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message.”
(Side-note: 52 states? Doesn’t that remind you of someone else who doesn’t know how many states there are?)
Kevin Curtis obviously has some problems. All of the above provides a humorous look at the inside mechanisms of one man’s mind, but it also provides a chilling look at the notion of “innocent until proven guilty.”
“The big part that we took from the testimony is that thorough and complete searches were done of Mr. Curtis’s residence, his former wife’s residence, as well as his vehicle — the vehicle he was driving at the time of the stop — and there was nothing found on anything that linked him to these crimes,” said defense attorney Christie McCoy.
Bottom line, there was not one shred of physical evidence to tie this man to the ricin mailings. His involvement was presumed because of Internet postings and e-mails.
His response to having his life turned upside down and inside out because of his Internet use? Curtis told a courtroom of reporters and attorneys that he’s finished — no more computers, no more Facebook, no more activism.
The FBI has a job to do and we all want the perpetrator of these crimes apprehended before someone is truly harmed. However, in light of the looming passage of CISPA, we should all be alarmed when harmless (albeit strange) postings via the Internet and e-mail communications are all the evidence needed to be arrested, and found “guilty until proven innocent”.