Ricin and Elvis

Breaking 4/23/2013 charges dropped! http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2013/04/23/charges-dropped-against-man-in-ricin-letters-case/a7s0nr0/

Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker and an unnamed Mississippi justice official had  letters addressed to the aforementioned political figures, containing a highly toxic ricin.

All were caught at the postal distribution facilities that have sensors for ricin and anthrax. 

 Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, and is “believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin,” the Justice Department said in a statement. 

The letters to Obama and Wicker had identical language, included the phrase, “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.” They were signed, “I am KC and I approve this message,” according to an FBI operations bulletin reviewed by Reuters.

The envelopes both bore postmarks from Memphis, Tennessee, and were dated April 8. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton noted in a statement, however, that it did not mean the letters originated in that city.

Ricin is a lethal poison found naturally in castor beans, but it takes a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon. Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.

Curtis’ ex-wife has said he likely didn’t have the know-how to make ricin, and she did not know where he would buy it because he was on disability. But Cohen said ricin was once known as “the poor man’s bioterrorism” because the seeds are easy to obtain and the extraction process is relatively simple.

“Any kid that made it through high school science lab is more than equipped to successfully make a poison out of this stuff. Any fool can get recipes off the Internet and figure out how to do it,” Cohen said.

Those seeds, which look a bit like coffee beans, are easy to buy online and are grown around the world; they are often used to make medicinal castor oil, among other things. However, using the seeds to make a highly concentrated form of ricin would require laboratory equipment and expertise to extract, said Raymond Zilinskas, a chemical and biological weapons expert.

In a John le Carré–style plotline, a pellet of ricin deployed with a jab from a pointed umbrella tip killed the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978. If ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, ricin can cause vomiting, bloody urine and seizures, then massive organ failure. 

This compilation of ricin-related cases reveals numerous other motley characters caught seeking or trying to use ricin: Denys Ray Hughes, a Phoenix survivalist nabbed trying to manufacture ricin in 2006; James Kenneth Gluck of Tampa, who planned to kill federal judges in 1999 and was found with ricin ingredients, recipes and lab equipment; Debora Green, an oncologist who tried to kill her husband by surreptitiously feeding him mail-ordered castor beans; and four members of the radical antitax Minnesota Patriots Council, nabbed after they ordered a ricin kit by mail from an ad in a militia magazine.

And let’s not forget the peculiar case of Roger von Bergendorff, an unemployed computer-graphic artist found comatose in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2008. Von Bergendorff had apparently inhaled ricin he’d produced himself. Prosecutors later said a vial in his possession held enough ricin to kill hundreds of people, though it was never clear why von Bergendorff had the stuff. (After awaking from his coma he was sentenced to three years in prison.)

One person who has delivered ricin and gotten away with it is someone who goes by the name Fallen Angel. In late 2003 authorities discovered two ricin-laced letters sent by someone using that name, one addressed to the Transportation Department and one to the Bush White House. The letters had a peculiar axe to grind, complaining about pending new regulations on the trucking industry requiring more rest hours for long-haul truckers. “If you change the hours of service on January 4, 2004, I will turn D.C into a ghost town,” warned the author, who described himself as the owner of a tanker-truck fleet company. Fortunately, his ricin was of a relatively nonlethal grade, and no one was sickened. But the FBI still posted a reward of up to $100,000 for him, though he was never caught.

For a moment this week it appeared that Fallen Angel might have returned. The ricin letters to Obama and Wicker were both postmarked in Tennessee, as was Fallen Angel’s letter to the Bush White House. It happens that long-haul regulations are scheduled to tighten this summer. And, bizarrely enough, a Pennsylvania man was arrested outside the White House last week after threatening to detonate a truck bomb there over his anger about — you guessed it — trucking regulations.

It doesn’t appear that Curtis is Fallen Angel. There’s no indication that his letters, both reported to contain the phrase “to see a wrong and not expose it is to become a silent partner to its continuance,” made reference to trucking. Both were signed with his initials. Or, more accurately: “I am KC and I approve this message.”

But court affidavits claimed that investigators quickly matched the verbiage used in the ricin tainted letters to Curtis’ online postings and previous letters to government officials.

Investigators particularly focused in on the signature, “I am KC and I approve this message,” and his mention of “Missing Pieces.”

According to the affidavit, the letter sent to Wicker and Obama 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 FBI asked Wicker’s office to see if it had any prior correspondences with constituents who had the initials “KC,” which revealed multiple letters previously sent by Curtis to Wicker’s office, according to the affidavit. All of the letters ended with a variation of the same signature, according to court documents filed today.

Curtis also frequently wrote about an alleged black market for the illegal sale of human body parts, which he believed the government was covering up, the affidavit said. He wrote about the allegations in an unpublished novel called “Missing Pieces,” which he discussed on his Facebook page and in the letters to government officials, according to the FBI.

It was the year 2001, when his “secret war” with U.S. officials and FBI began. It was in the act of cleaning up that he “accidentally discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue.” He immediately did as any of us would have, and reported it to the police, which he now likely considers his “first mistake.”

He believes that the organs, were part of a major conspiracy between the government, and the infamous La cosa Nostra (mafia) involving the black market sale of organs. It was after this that he believes he was made to be a “person of interest, where my every move was watched and videotaped.” 

 

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