Suspect Arrested In Poison-Laced Letters

The FBI has arrested a Mississippi man believed to be responsible for mailing three letters that, at least preliminarily, tested positive for the poison ricin. They were addressed to President Obama, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi and a judge in Mississippi.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're continuing to follow that story through the morning and also this. The FBI has arrested a Mississippi man believed to be responsible for mailing three letters that at least preliminarily tested positive for the poison ricin. These letters were addressed to President Obama, to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and to a Mississippi judge. The letters were mailed before the bombing in Boston but the timing of their arrival had people on edge. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: At around 5:15 yesterday afternoon, the FBI arrested a man named Paul Kevin Curtis at his home in Corinth, Mississippi. The FBI says it believes he is responsible for mailing the letters that contained a granular substance thought to be ricin, a poison made from castor beans.

The arrest capped an at times tense day on Capitol Hill, where at one point parts of two Senate office buildings were on lockdown as the Capitol police investigated suspicious packages - not related to the ricin letters, unless you count the nerves. Two other senators reported suspicious letters sent to their district offices. One is still being tested. The letters sent to Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake turned out to be innocuous.

REPRESENTATIVE JEFF FLAKE: Oh, it's good news that it wasn't harmful. But you know, after the ricin letter you get a couple letters from Tennessee with no return address and an oily substance on there, I think my staff was right to be suspicious.

KEITH: The letters to the president and Senator Wicker never even made it close to their intended targets. They were intercepted at off-site mail handling facilities. Tamara Keith, NPR News.

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