OXFORD, Miss. - The investigation into poisoned letters mailed to President Barack Obama and others has shifted from an Elvis impersonator to his longtime foe, and authorities must now figure out if an online feud between the two men might have escalated into something more sinister.
Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, was released from a north Mississippi jail on Tuesday and charges against him were dropped, nearly a week after authorities charged him with sending ricin-laced letters to the president, Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and an 80-year-old Lee County, Miss., Justice Court judge, Sadie Holland.
Before Curtis left jail, authorities had already descended on the home of 41-year-old Everett Dutschke in Tupelo, a northeast Mississippi town best known as the birthplace of the King himself. On Wednesday, they searched the site of a Tupelo martial arts studio once operated by Dutschke, who hasn't been arrested or charged.
His attorney, Lori Nail Basham, said Dutschke is "cooperating fully" with investigators and that no arrest warrant had been issued.
Curtis describes a bizarre, yearslong feud between the two, but Dutschke insists he had nothing to do with the letters. They contained language identical to that found on Curtis' Facebook page and other websites, making him an early suspect.
Federal authorities have not said what led them to drop the charges against Curtis, and his lawyers say they're not sure what new evidence the FBI has found.
After being released from jail Tuesday, Curtis described a long feud between himself and Dutschke but said he's not sure exactly what started it. It involves the men's time working together, a broken promise to help with a book by Curtis and an acrimonious exchange of emails, according to Curtis.
The two worked together at Curtis' brother's insurance office years ago, Curtis said. He said Dutschke told him he owned a newspaper and showed interest in publishing his book called "Missing Pieces," about what Curtis considers an underground market to sell body parts.
But Dutschke decided not to publish the material, Curtis said, and later began stalking him online.
For his part, Dutschke said he didn't even know Curtis that well.