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Tuesday
Apr232013

Charges Dropped Against Ricin Letter Suspect as Cops Search New Suspect

Authorities arrested Paul Kevin Curtis in connection to the ricin-tainted letters sent to President Obama and government offices, April 17, 2013. (Facebook)(OXFORD, Miss.) -- A Mississippi man arrested last week for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letters to President Obama was released Tuesday and the charges against him dismissed, as federal agents began searching the home of a new suspect Tuesday afternoon.

Paul Kevin Curtis was released Tuesday morning from federal custody and said that he was "overwhelmed" by being arrested and charged with sending threatening letters to government officials. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, so that they could be reinstated if the investigation warranted it.

Curtis, 45, was arrested at his home in Corinth, Miss., a day after a letter laced with the poison was discovered addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. A second letter was intercepted before it reached President Obama, and a third letter was mailed to Sadie Holland, a justice of the peace in Lee County, Miss.

Officials said that the signature on the letters matched that of Curtis' online postings and other letters he had mailed. He consistently signed them "I am KC and I approve this message," according to an FBI affidavit.

During a bond hearing on Monday, however, FBI investigators admitted that there was no physical evidence that Curtis had sent ricin, a poison made from ground castor beans, to the officials. Curtis's attorney, Christi McCoy, called for his release.

McCoy and Curtis, an Elvis impersonator and entertainer, appeared Tuesday in Oxford, Miss., to praise federal officials for dropping the charges and investigating other suspects in the crimes.

"We're just thrilled, so happy with the government," McCoy said. "Sometimes law enforcement will get on one angle and stay on that angle no matter what, and we are so happy that was not the case here. They went where the evidence led, realized it was a dead end, and went where true evidence was."

"I mean, let's be honest," McCoy said at the conference, "his Facebook page and writings directly correlated with what was sent to our officials. I haven't seen anything that makes me think they acted recklessly."

"It feels amazing, it feels wonderful," Curtis said. "It was overwhelming to say the least. The last seven days, staring at these four great walls, and to not know what's really happening, not having a clue when I'm there. I was just in a state of being overwhelmed."

Meanwhile, federal agents searched the home of Everett Dutschke, a Tupelo, Miss., resident currently facing charges for child molestation. Curtis said that Dutschke has had a long-running conflict with him.

FBI agent Brandon Grant believed that the ricin was made by crudely chopping castor beans in a food processor or blender, neither of which were located in Curtis's home, according to ABC News affiliate WTVA-TV.

The letter was mailed from Memphis, Tenn., about 100 miles north of Curtis's home, according to the charging documents.

Neither McCoy nor the U.S. Attorney's office handling the case have responded to requests for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio