Suspected poisoned letter attacker appeared on NBC's “Today” show a free man

Photo courtesy Jamie K. Wiley

"I thought they (FBI) said 'rice'," Curtis said.

Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 3:59pm

Kevin Paul Curtis appeared on NBC's “Today” show on Thursday after being released from custody earlier this week. He was freed after charges he sent letters containing the lethal substance ricin to President Barack Obama, Mississippi U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and a judge in Lee County, Miss., were dropped.

The entertainer from Corinth, Mississippi, with ties to Natchez, tells “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie that he never heard of the dangerous substance, made from the byproducts of castor beans. "I thought they (FBI officers investigating) said ‘rice,’ and I said ‘I don’t eat rice."

In the interview, Curtis said he allowed federal and Mississippi state and local officials search his home.  Upon that search earlier this week, nothing suspicious was found.

A court filing Tuesday during the continued investigation has revealed new information, prompting the release of Curtis from custody. Curtis and his attorney, Christi McCoy, believe that he was being framed. J. Everett Dutschke, known as a unfriendly acquaintance of Curtis, was now being searched and questioned by the FBI.

On the day of the search of Curtis's home, Dutschke told the Clarion Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss., “I guess Kevin got desperate. I feel like he’s getting away with the perfect crime.”

"I have a hunch. You never really know, because I've been a vocal online activist for many years," Curtis said about Dutschke potentially being the new suspect. "Whoever was watching me, they knew the kind of things I put in my (posts online)."

At a press conference after his release on Tuesday, Curtis claimed he was the focus of law enforcement due to previous writings on Facebook, websites and other social media about organ trafficking. The location of his accusations was published online to be North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

During the “Today” show interview, Curtis said he felt the indirect interrogation by the FBI while in custody were misleading in the hope he would self-confess to the ricin attacks. 

"They (the officers) said, 'You know what we're talking about'," Curtis explains. "They were very angry. It’s like they knew they had the right guy immediately."

Curtis said he was in custody for two days before he was informed of the exact charges.

"They wanted to see if I would actually just say something, just give the information," Curtis said.  "It was more of an attack like, ‘We know you did it, you know you did it, don’t deny, you know what you did.’ I didn’t know what I'm here for."

Curtis explained how he was arrested on April 17 methodically by law enforcement. "It happened in probably three seconds," he said. There were like 20 armed cars and machine guns and hoods, and (there were) Homeland Security and FBI."

McCoy, upon speaking with Curtis, believed he was not guilty of the ricin attacks. "When I met with (Curtis) and I talked to him, and after having done this a really long time, you just get a gut (feeling),'' she said.

The FBI and investigators of the ricin attacks were lead to Curtis when messages he generally posted on Facebook and websites, along with E-mails and written correspondence to elected oficials, were contained in the letters to Obama and Wicker. The letters ended with “I am KC and I approve this message."

"I've signed the same signature for 15 years," Curtis said.  He also claims in the “Today” interview the signature he uses on E-mails found on the letters that reads, "To see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance," was merely copied by someone and pasted to the letters.

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