By JB Clark and Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland received a letter containing a suspicious substance, similar to letters received by President Barack Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said at a Wednesday night news conference that his department was notified of the suspicious letter and substance at 9 a.m. on April 10.
“As of (Wednesday) we were contacted by the FBI because of recent letters sent to Sen. Wicker and President Obama,” Johnson said. “The way they were written, postmark, and the content were similar. The federal people arrived at our facility with a portable lab, took possession of the letter that was analyzed at the portable lab.”
Johnson said the letter was addressed to a specific judge but wouldn’t release a name. State Rep. Steve Holland confirmed it was his mother, Judge Sadie Holland.
Preliminary results show the substance found in Holland’s letter is similar to the ricin found in the letters sent to Wicker and Obama.
Johnson said no one has shown symptoms of being exposed to the substance, thought to be a poison called ricin.
The letter has been taken by the FBI for further testing.
Johnson said the FBI notified the Lee County Sheriff’s Office of a local person of interest and worked with the FBI and other local agencies to bring a North Mississippi man into custody.
He wouldn’t release the name of the man they took into custody because they have not yet filed charges.
In a Wednesday evening press release Daniel McMullen, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi, announced arresting Paul Kevin Curtis Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. at his Corinth residence.
Johnson said, if the substance mailed to Holland is ricin, they will file charges against their suspect for aggravated assault against a public official, aggravated assault against the court staff who handled the letter and possession of a weapon of mass destruction.
All three letters were postmarked from Memphis.
Johnson said the suspect has been cooperative since being taken into custody.
Former Lee County Assistant District Attorney David Daniels told the Daily Journal he has received a plain white envelope at his home with his name typed on the front. He said the envelope is rather thick.
Daniels said he is taking it to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office today.
Daniels filed a restraining order against Curtis after a 2001 altercation and hasn’t had contact with Curtis since.
Johnson said they expect to receive results of the chemical tests quickly so they can proceed with local charges.