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."