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Family claims accused ricin mailer is mentally ill

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The stories from family and acquaintances of a Mississippi man charged with sending ricin-laced letters to the president and other officials describe a caring father and enthusiastic musician who struggled with mental illness and pursued a conspiracy theory to its farthest reaches.

Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, wrote numerous Web posts over the past several years describing the event he said "changed my life forever": the chance discovery of body parts and organs wrapped in plastic in small refrigerator at a hospital where he worked as a janitor more than a decade ago.

He tried to talk to officials about and publicize what he claimed was an elaborate conspiracy theory to sell body parts on the black markets, but he thought he was being railroaded by the government. Authorities say the efforts culminated in letters sent to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a judge in Mississippi. "Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die," the letters read, according to an FBI affidavit.

"He is bipolar, and the only thing I can say is he wasn't on his medicine," his ex-wife, Laura Curtis, told The Associated Press.

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