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April 23, 2013

Charges dropped against man in ricin letters case (UPDATED)

OXFORD, Miss. —

Charges of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others were dropped Tuesday against an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi who has said since his arrest last week that he had nothing to do with the case.

Meanwhile, in Tupelo, numerous law enforcement officers converged on the home of another Mississippi man, Everett Dutschke, including some in hazmat suits. No charges have been filed against him and he hasn't been arrested. Both men say they have no idea how to make the poisonous ricin and had nothing to do with sending them to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and a state judge.

Referring to officials' questions for him about the case, "I thought they said rice and I said I don't even eat rice," 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis said after he was released from custody Tuesday afternoon. "I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official."

A one-sentence document filed by federal prosecutors said charges against Curtis were dropped, but left open the possibility they could be re-instated if authorities found more to prove their case. Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

The dismissal is the latest twist in a case that rattled the country already on edge over the Boston Marathon bombing last week.

Curtis was well-known to Wicker because he had written to the Republican and other officials about black-market body parts he claimed to have found while working at a hospital — a claim the hospital says is untrue. Curtis also wrote a book called "Missing Pieces" about his claims and posted similar language on his Facebook page and elsewhere. The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years.

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