WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – Lab tests have confirmed the suspicious letters sent to President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) this week contained the deadly poison ricin, the FBI announced Thursday afternoon.
The FBI said Thursday that further tests are still being done, but that lab results show the toxin was used in the mailings.
There are no known illnesses from the exposure.
On Wednesday, Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was arrested at his home in Corinth, Miss., near the Tennessee border for allegedly mailing the poison-laced letters.
According to authorities, Curtis believed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market and claimed “various parties within the government” were trying to ruin his reputation.
He appeared in federal court Thursday on charges of threatening Obama and others, but he did not enter a plea.
The judge said a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing are scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday.
Attorney Christi R. McCoy said Curtis “maintains 100 percent that he did not do this.”
“I know Kevin, I know his family,” she said. “This is a huge shock.”
McCoy said she has not yet decided whether to seek a hearing to determine whether Curtis is mentally competent to stand trial.
An FBI affidavit says Curtis sent three letters with ricin to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge. The letters read:
“No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still ‘Missing Pieces.’ Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die. This must stop. To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance. I am KC and I approve this message.”
The affidavit says Curtis had sent letters to Wicker’s office several times before with the message, “this is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message.”
In several letters to Wicker and other officials, Curtis said he was writing a novel about black market body parts called “Missing Pieces.”
Curtis also had posted language similar to the letters on his Facebook page, the affidavit says.
The documents indicate Curtis had been distrustful of the government for years. In 2007, Curtis’ ex-wife called police in Booneville, Miss., to report that her husband was extremely delusional, anti-government and felt the government was spying on him with drones.
An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said the two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.
The letters had Washington on edge in the days after the Boston Marathon bombing. As authorities scurried to investigate three questionable packages discovered in Senate office buildings Wednesday, reports of suspicious items also came in from at least three senators’ offices in their home states. The items were found to be harmless.
Multiple online posts on various websites under the name Kevin Curtis refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000.
The author wrote the conspiracy that began when he “discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue of the largest non-metropolitan health care organization in the United States of America.”
Curtis wrote that he was trying to “expose various parties within the government, FBI, police departments” for what he believed was “a conspiracy to ruin my reputation in the community as well as an ongoing effort to break down the foundation I worked more than 20 years to build in the country music scene.”
In one post, Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians.
“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—”
He signed off: “This is Kevin Curtis & I approve this message.”
The FBI said there was no indication of a connection between the letters and the Monday bombing in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 170. The letters to Obama and Wicker were postmarked April 8, before the marathon.
Both letters to Obama and Wicker were intercepted at off-site locations where mail to officials is screened.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)