Thirty-two-year-old Curtis Eugene Prescott died on January 11, 2008 in Mayes County, Oklahoma He was shot in the right side of his head with a 12 gauge shotgun. The funeral director placed his death at 7 or 8 a.m. The Medical Examiner, Steve Massey, said only that it was dark when the shooting took place. Curtis' death was ruled a suicide. No autopsy was performed.
According to Steve Massey, the Mayes County Sheriff's Department reached the suicide conclusion even before they went to the scene. And he admits basing his finding primarily upon their statement that Curtis was on record as having made suicide threats. However, there is no record of any such threats.
On the contrary, people who talked with Curtis the day before his death say he was far from suicidal. Those individuals include his 9-year-old daughter, Courtney; her teacher, who met with Curtis to form plans about helping Courtney bring up her math grade; and his grandmother, with whom Curtis and Courtney were planning to have dinner that night. That plan was cancelled because Courtney went home on the school bus instead of waiting for her father to pick her up. None of those people -- among the last to see Curtis alive -- were interviewed by law enforcement.
Kathy Page, Curtis' mom, said that her son had called her the day before his death and said he was coming to town the next morning to look for a job and would see her then. He also said he had filled his propane tank with $400 worth of propane which should last him and Courtney for most of the winter. Kathy doesn't believe those statements reflect a plan to commit suicide. Besides that, a man who loves his daughter as much as Curtis loved Courtney is unlikely to shoot himself in front of his house where his daughter will find his body. Luckily, when Courtney got up in the morning and couldn't find her dad, she didn't go outside. Instead she called her grandmother. It was her and his aunt who found him.
According to Kathy, Curtis had been addicted to alcohol in the past. But he overcame his addiction and turned his life around. However, during his period of drinking he had an altercation with officers that resulted in a six month jail sentence. As a result of that incident deputies harbored a grudge against him.
Kathy became concerned about the quality of the police investigation almost as soon as she and her husband arrived at the scene. Red flags went up she saw that one of the deputies on site was known to have a dislike for Curtis bordering on hatred. Her concerns mounted as she heard conflicting stories from the officers. It soon became apparent to her that they had no intention of investigating the death of a man whom they held in contempt.
The house Curtis and Courtney rented was just down the drive from the house of his landlord. Curtis had agreed to keep an eye on the landlord's house while he and his wife were away. Courtney told the family that shortly before she went to bed on January 10th, Curtis told her that he had heard or seen something at the landlord's house and had gone outside to check on it, taking his shotgun with him. Although he did not intercept an intruder, he told Courtney he was going to stay on the alert.
Curtis' body was found next to the driveway between his house and the landlord's house. According to the ME's report, he was not wearing socks, which suggests that he jumped into his boots and went out suddenly. These facts cause Kathy and her family to believe that early the next morning Curtis again heard something suspicious coming from the direction of his landlord's house, causing him to go outside with his shotgun to investigate.
Kathy's lack of confidence in the police investigation caused her to hire a private investigator to do an independent investigation. He believes the gun went off accidentally, either because Curtis stumbled while walking down the dark driveway or during a scuffle with an intruder.
Sometimes people ask Kathy why she doesn't just let this go. After all, there was no life insurance involved and there's nothing to gain financially by refuting the findings of law enforcement.
Her answer to this is, "I can't let this go because it's wrong! The police should not be able to dictate to a medical examiner what to write in his report. They should obey the law and investigate unattended traumatic deaths, whether or not they personally liked the victim. They should write fact-based reports and be able and willing to support their statements when questioned by the victim's family and private investigator. They should collect evidence at a death scene, and not leave it lying on the ground, along with their discarded garbage.”
Kathy is committed to getting a thorough and competent investigation of her son's death. Let's hope her dedication and courage are rewarded very soon.