Arrest Made in Suspected Poison LettersBy Daniel Cherry | Published 17 Apr 2013 09:15pm |
A Mississippi man has been arrested for allegedly sending letters to Senator Roger Wicker and President Obama that tested positive for the poison ricin. In a press conference Wednesday evening, Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said a similar letter sent to a Lee County Justice Court official led investigators to the area.
Mississippi's elected officials say this is a reminder of the dangers of public service.
Officials say Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth was arrested Wednesday at his apartment. Letters addressed to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and President Barack Obama have Capitol staff on high alert after testing positive for the poison ricin. Mississippi 1st District Congressman Alan Nunnelee thinks this shows the danger of holding a high-profile office.
"Men and women would have a very difficult time walking up and talking to the President of the United States or any of the nine Supreme Court justices, whereas members of the Congress are very accessible to men and women throughout the nation. I think that's a good thing, but we just have to be smart in the way we approach things."
Authorities are still awaiting definitive results after initial field tests indicated the letters were positive for the poison. Dr. Carl Jensen is a 22 year FBI veteran and is now Director of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies at the University of Mississippi. He says the poison can be made from castor oil beans if someone knows the process.
"Ricin can be deadly if it's ingested, if it's eaten, if it's inhaled, if it's injected, if it somehow makes its way into your body it will be fatal. There is no cure for it."
Both letters were postmarked April 8th out of Memphis and reported to say "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." Congressman Nunnelee applauds the off-site mail facility that intercepted the letters before they could do any harm.
"The problem it causes for everyday Americans is if they want to write a letter to their congressman, it takes a very long time for that letter to get here. But that letter is opened and screened to make sure there's no toxic substances."
In a written statement Wednesday evening Senator Wicker thanked the FBI and Capitol Police for their decisive action in keeping his family and staff safe from harm.
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