Paul Kevin Curtis: Ricin Letters Suspect An Elvis-Impersonating Conspiracy Theorist

The story of the man arrested Thursday night on suspicions of filling envelopes with ricin and sending them to President Obama and Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi might be more bizarre than the crime. Paul Kevin Curtis, or KC (as he likes to be called on stage), is a celebrity impersonator making his living impersonating everyone from Kenny Chesney to Prince, and once went “undercover” to expose rigging in an Elvis competition. 

While no specific motive for mailing the castor bean derived poison to public officials is known, the letters both read, "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance," and both were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message." 

Curtis also posted this on his Facebook page after the death of the 8-year-old boy at the Boston Marathon bombings:

“heart breaking. I have an 8 year old son with the smile of an angel. This world is not what it used to be and the hopes of all are not what they ‘USED’ to be. We have let God down. We removed prayer from schools in 62 ... we have staged wars simply for profits in oil and drugs ... we have lied our way from the capitol to the pulpit. We the people should be ashamed. I weep for the future of our children. God bless,” he posted. 

While his actions are surprising, it’s not surprising that he chose ricin as his weapon of choice. It is easily made at home and is commonly used as a weapon in anti-government plots. Four men in Georgia were arrested only two years ago for planning on using the poison to mount a bioterrorism attack.

“This is worse than anthrax,” one of them reportedly said. “There ain’t no cure for it either.”

His grammar may not have been perfect, but he was right. There is no cure for ricin. It’s deadly in small quantities, which is why Saddam Hussein made attempts to weaponize it and Yemen’s Al-Qaeda tried to get “lone-wolf terrorists” in America to use it. It seems Curtis caught on to the trend.

His arrest caught his family by surprise — they said they had no knowledge of any anti-government feelings, and that all they knew was that he was upset over “stuff that happened with his cleaning business”(Yes, he also ran a cleaning business).

His cleaning business is, evidently, the start of his conspiracy theory issues. While cleaning at “the largest non-metropolitan health care organization in the United States of America” between 1998 and 2000, he wrote he discovered “dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic” in a refrigerator in the hospital’s morgue, including “A leg, an arm, a hand, a foot, hearts, lungs, tissue, eyes and even a severed human head!”

He said after he reported the discovery, he says was fired and hushed up.

“Security guards were all of a sudden around me ... walking behind me and I could hear video camera's zooming in on me as I walked down the hallways that night. Security followed me to the time card machine that night for the first time in 14 months,” he wrote.

He said the discovery led to three years of confrontations with the hospital over the body parts, which he suspected were being sold to the black market, and “countless court battles, cops harassing me weekly, death threats, personal & financial losses, several thefts, my home burned down, car exploded, marriage dissolved & bankruptcy.” 

All of this does, in fact, link back to the recent letter he sent. Curtis said he wrote letters to Wicker to reach out for help with his problem, but never received a response.

"I never heard a word from anyone. I even ran into Roger Wicker several different times while performing at special banquets and fundraisers in northeast, Mississippi, but he seemed very nervous while speaking with me and would make a fast exit to the door when I engaged in conversation ..." 

The signoff to his article is even more telling: "This is Kevin Curtis & I approve this report." 

Now, maybe all of this really did happen to Kevin Curtis and he finally snapped. Or, maybe he fell into paranoia and this is how it played out. Whatever the cause, I think we can all agree it’s a good thing he no longer has access to stamps. 

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Jessica Huseman

Jessica wrote for Mic.com until Feb. 2014. Now she's an investigative reporter at The Teacher Project, writing articles on K12 education for Slate.com. Her work has appeared in ProPublica, The Atlantic, Slate, The Dallas Morning News and Chalkbeat and more. Find her contact info and her recent work at www.jessicalhuseman.com.

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