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Poison letters probe: Curtis thankful for Natchez residents who stood by him

Paul Kevin Curtis, left, who was in custody after being charged with sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others, hugs his attorney Christi McCoy and older brother Jack McCoy during a press conference after being released in Oxford, Miss., Tuesday, April 23, 2013. The charges were dropped without prejudice. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Paul Kevin Curtis, left, who was in custody after being charged with sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others, hugs his attorney Christi McCoy and older brother Jack McCoy during a press conference after being released in Oxford, Miss., Tuesday, April 23, 2013. The charges were dropped without prejudice. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

NATCHEZ — Hearing that Natchez residents stood by him despite accusations of national proportions was the best news Kevin Curtis said he’d heard all day — almost better than learning all charges had been dropped.

“That’s my hometown where I grew up, so it feels wonderful to know people in Natchez were supporting me,” Curtis said Tuesday evening. “That’s some of the best news I’ve heard all day.”

Curtis was arrested last Wednesday in Corinth and accused of sending poison-laced letters to a number of political figures including President Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge.

After various proceedings in federal court in Oxford, Curtis was released from custody Tuesday and the charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means they could be re-instated if prosecutors so choose.

“When my attorney walked in and told me she had some good news that they were pushing for dismissal and all charges were going to be dropped, I sort of collapsed in the seat because it was like this huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders,” Curtis said. “I haven’t slept in six days, so it’s been an amazing feeling since I was told that and was let go.”

Curtis’ brother, Jack Curtis, who is also a former Natchez resident, has been present at all the court proceedings. He said news that the charges were dropped didn’t come as a surprise, but that it was certainly the best news he’s heard in the last week.

“I and my family knew in our hearts that he was innocent, but we obviously went into everything with an open mind factually and logically because it’s the FBI we’re talking about,” Jack Curtis said. “But after I heard what evidence they did have, I was just further convinced because they didn’t have anything.

“They jumped the gun on Kevin.”

Jack Curtis said he and his brother were on the way to see several family members Tuesday afternoon, and begin the process of attempting to clear the Curtis name.

“We feel like we have some damage control to do because my family has been through a lot with all this,” Jack Curtis said. “I had to be the one to tell my mom that her son and my brother has been arrested by the FBI for threats against the president of our country.

“That’s a hard sentence to get out and even harder to get out to your mother.”

Reconnecting with his family and talking to people about his innocence is what Kevin Curtis said he was most looking forward to in the coming days.

“I haven’t seen my children yet, and that’s who I want to see first,” Kevin Curtis said. “People have been telling me, ‘Why didn’t you tell us all this was going on?’ but I’ve been screaming at the top of my lungs for 13 years trying to get help.

“I think people are finally starting to listen.”