Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was remanded Friday in a Mississippi courthouse under suspicion of having sent poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama, to a US senator, and to a judge. Curtis has denied the allegations.
An Elvis impersonator, Curtis believed the government was following him with drones and claimed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell body parts on the black market, but that no one would listen to him.
Those who knew Curtis described him as a good father and a quiet neighbor, but recent accounts show a man who spiraled into emotional turmoil and grew more eccentric with time. Friends and acquaintances, including his ex-wife, said his behavior become increasingly unpredictable when did not take his medication.
In numerous online posts spaced over the last few years and a book he had written, Curtis described the event that he said "changed my life forever": the chance discovery of body parts and organs wrapped in plastic in a small refrigerator at a hospital where he worked as a janitor more than a decade ago.
Paul Kevin Curtis (Photo: AP)
Curtis had tried to talk to officials about what he believed to be the body part conspiracy, but he thought he was being railroaded by the government. Authorities say the efforts culminated in letters sent to Obama, US Senator Roger Wicker, and a judge in Mississippi who had presided over a case against Curtis. "Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die," the letters read, according to an FBI affidavit.
Since 2000, Curtis was reported to have been arrested four times, on charges including cyber stalking and physical violence. He had also attempted to speak with Wicker at a performance, according to an account posted on the Internet under Curtis’ name.
Poisonous letter removed from site (Photo: AP)
Wicker said Thursday in Washington that he recalled meeting Curtis when the man was working as Elvis at a party Wicker and his wife helped throw for an engaged couple about 10 years ago. Wicker called him "quite entertaining" but said, "My impression is that since that time he's had mental issues and perhaps is not as stable as he was back then."
Prentiss County, Mississippi Sheriff Randy Tolar said he had arrested Curtis several times in the past. "I think he has some very serious psychological issues from my dealings with him …I had read some of his Facebook postings, and it was very far out there. He'll get down on you and bash you with everything he's got, even making up stuff, and I've seen that side of him."
On April 12, Curtis wrote on his Facebook page, “They destroyed my marriage, they distracted my career, they stalked, they trolled, they came into my home, took my computers, had me arrested 22 times and guess what? I am still a thorn in their corrupt anals!”
On Thursday, the US Justice Department, after an unusually speedy bioterror investigation headed by the FBI, accused Curtis of mailing the letters to both Wicker and Obama containing a substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin, a highly lethal poison made from castor beans.
The letters, intercepted by authorities before they reached their destinations, referenced the book Curtis had written about the black market body parts.
Curtis was taken into custody on Wednesday at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
A lawyer for Curtis could not be reached for comment. His family said in a statement that Curtis had "a lengthy history of mental illness," having been diagnosed as bipolar.
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to this report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop