The Innocent Ricin Suspect With the Supervillain Backstory


Overshadowed by tragic bombings and exhaustive manhunts, a man from Mississippi named Paul Kevin Curtis was charged with mailing ricin-laced letters to President Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, and a Mississippi judge, because if you're going to try to kill the president, you might as well round out your enemies list while you're at it.

Win McNamee / Getty

"All we know for certain is that this guy is a real go-getter."

And then, suddenly, Curtis was released, all charges were dropped, and a man named James Everett Dutschke was arrested in his place. This was a baffling turn of events, since Curtis seemed to have everything the modern media could ask for in a crazy supervillain. Such as ...

An Origin Story

Nothing fits more perfectly into the paint-by-numbers news narrative than a formative moment that a crazy person's actions can be traced back to. Pretty much every news outlet wanted you to think that Curtis' journey toward the attempted poisoning of a sitting president started when he was working as a janitor at a medical clinic in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he allegedly discovered human body parts wrapped in plastic in the morgue fridge.

Bert Mohr / AP

"Which I knew was weird, because it wasn't Sandwich Tuesday."

Rather than take a single second to realize that it would be weirder if the morgue fridge contained anything other than human body parts, Curtis' mind immediately jumped to a vast conspiracy involving the mafia, the government, and black market human organ harvesting. This, in the media's eyes, gave Curtis ...

A Motive

"I'm on the hidden front lines of a secret war," he wrote in a Facebook post, which was presumably followed by "Liked" pictures of random people's breakfasts from Instagram.

The Innocent Ricin Suspect With the Supervillain Backstory
Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

"My sacred, lonely quest can only be shared with the entire Internet."

"When we lay our loved ones to rest....we hope and pray their bodies are not violated but I am here to tell you, as long as the bone, tissue & organ harvesting indu$try is NOT REGULATED....on any level(s) whether it be local, state, federal or national...........your loved ones body parts are NOT $AFE." The spelling, grammar, and dollar signs are all his, by the way.

This rant was treated like a Bond villain's self-incriminating monologue. If you read any coverage of this story, you were told that Curtis was seeking justice for all of the dead bodies his employers were selling piecemeal, so he mailed the president some poison, because crazy people tend to pursue tenuous lines of logic well beyond any rational conclusion.

The Innocent Ricin Suspect With the Supervillain Backstory
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"This poisoned letter has convinced me: no more corpse-harvesting."

Even better, Curtis also had ...

A Gimmick

You need a flair for theatrics to capture the attention of a distracted world. Sometime between discovering the horrible limb market conspiracy and being accused of mailing a concentrated dose of murder to the leader of the free world, Curtis became a professional impersonator of famous musicians, because he can apparently see into the future and predict the needs of Internet comedy writers. A costumed presidential assassin?! This fucking story writes itself.

His specialty was Elvis:

But he also did Buddy Holly:

And Prince, whom he portrays in still images as David Blaine in a Prince costume:

The Innocent Ricin Suspect With the Supervillain Backstory

The guy could impersonate pretty much anyone, assuming you were told who he was supposed to be impersonating beforehand and were then reminded of it halfway through.

Curtis was a gift to the media that was ultimately too good to be true. Despite all of us hearing this story and really wanting Curtis to be the wackiest attempted murderer in history, the guy just didn't do it. Officials are investigating whether he was framed by his archnemesis, because yes, he totally has one -- a former taekwondo instructor, radio DJ, and catastrophically unsuccessful candidate for the Mississippi state legislature named James Everett Dutschke.

10 8 6 4 2 5'

Pronounced "douche-key."

Dutschke, it turns out, had once worked together with Curtis to try to publish Curtis' unquestionably factual account of the body part haberdashery being run inside his hospital, but the two had a falling out when Curtis posted a fake certificate on Facebook that said he was a member of Mensa, the international genius club of which Dutschke was inexplicably an actual member. Because apparently that was the obvious lie Dutschke could not abide, he threatened to sue Curtis if he didn't take the post down. They had another bitter dispute over their respective music careers when Dutschke attempted to start a band after Curtis had begun his professional impersonations. And now it appears that Dustchke may have mailed ricin to a judge, a senator, and the goddamn president, just to make Curtis look like an asshole. It should also be mentioned that Dutschke had to close his taekwondo studio in the wake of allegations that he had molested three underage girls (one of whom is 7 years old), and that he signed his court appearance papers with a smiley face. Oh, and the FBI found traces of ricin in his karate molestation dungeon.

Boy, James Everett Dutschke kind of sounds like a bugshit crazy supervillain, doesn't he?

The Innocent Ricin Suspect With the Supervillain Backstory

Behold, the duckface of evil.

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