During the FBI’s ongoing investigation into letters containing ricin addressed to President Barack Obama, Senator Roger Wicker, and a Mississippi judicial official – Sadie Holland – evidence collected by the FBI from the former business, Tupelo Taekwondo Plus, located on Rankin Boulevard Ext. in Tupelo, Mississippi, tested positive for trace levels of ricin.
Because public safety is always the FBI’s first priority in any investigation, that location was immediately sealed off and appropriate public health authorities were notified. The FBI is now conducting further forensic examination for the purpose of identifying trace evidence, residues, and signatures of production that could provide evidence to support the investigation.
Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. Ricin poisoning can occur when the substance enters the body through ingestion, inhalation, or injection. To date, the FBI is not aware of any illness as a result of exposure to these letters.
Federal authorities have produced scant evidence linking a Mississippi man to the mailing of ricin-laced letters to the president and a senator, his attorney says.
Christi McCoy said after a court hearing Friday that the government has offered no evidence to prove her client, Paul Kevin Curtis, had possession of any ricin or the seed from which it is extracted – castor beans. An FBI agent testified during the hearing that he could not say if investigators had found ricin at Curtis’ home, and McCoy said the evidence linking the 45-year-old to the crime so far has hinged on his writings posted online.
He is adamant that he did not do this, and she said she has seen nothing to prove him wrong.
At approximately 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, FBI special agents arrested Paul Kevin Curtis, the individual believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin. The letters were addressed to a U.S. senator, the White House, and a Mississippi justice official.
The U.S. Secret Service confirmed it intercepted a letter addressed to President Barack Obama that contained a “suspicious substance.”
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the letter was intercepted at a facility away from the White House. He said the letter was also received Tuesday.