By Scott's mom, Susan
Scott Bradley Curtis
I apologize in advance if my timeline is off. I have “grieving mama brain”.
It all started on October 14, 1991. An amazingly beautiful baby boy was born after nearly 24 hours of hard labor. I named him Scott Bradley Curtis. Scott was named after his father (a decision I soon regretted), and Bradley after General Omar Bradley, as his father was a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army, a graduate of West Point in 1990.
The minute I looked into those big, beautiful eyes, with a band of gold around his pupils, I was smitten. As he grew, we grew in love and mutual admiration. Scott Bradley’s father was extremely abusive to Scott Bradley and myself, so our bond most likely exceeded even the “average” mother/son bond. We helped each other through the abuse. Scott Bradley was so smart and so active! He climbed out of his crib at 5 months. He knew that “M is for Mama” when he was 2 and all of his letters by the time he was 3.
Scott’s sister, Lindsay, was born on September 18, 1994. They had a fairly typical brother/sister relationship. There were many “Hallmark moments,” but they were also intermingled with sibling fighting. However, for the most part, the three of us banded together to protect ourselves from abuse.
I (finally) separated from their father on Lindsay’s birthday in 2000. They had both been pleading for me to “divorce dada”. In my mind, I thought this would finally protect my babies from abuse.
Boy, was I wrong!
Their father, who never had bathed them, read them a book, played with them, or even hugged them or told them he loved them, fought me for custody and received joint custody. I was teaching fifth grade in a Catholic School at the time, and I could not have been more shocked!
So, we began joint custody. I would have them one week, then he would. This man was so malicious to the children and myself. He would abuse them physically and emotionally. He would not let them call me, nor let me call them. It was horrific.
Scott Bradley began telling people about the abuse and also telling people he was going to kill his father. DYFS - the Division of Youth and Family Services (New Jersey’s Child Protective Services) investigated him many times...only to say, “He denies it,” or “Ma’am, you have to understand, he’s a pillar of society.” Eventually, DYFS mandated that he lose custody for a year, because Scott Bradley was losing weight and also because he left his handgun just laying around on tables in the house. He was allowed to have supervised visitation with his children during this year, although he never took advantage of it. On top of this, he lied to his neighbors and told them that I kidnapped the children and that’s why they were gone for a year.
After a year, the children and their father were mandated to have counseling with a psychiatrist. During these sessions, Scott’s father broke Scott’s finger in one session, tore off his jacket in another, and screamed at the children. I had to sit out in the waiting room and listen. The children would hide under and behind furniture. However, the psychiatrist wrote up his report at the end of the mandated counseling sessions and said that their father was “a good father who obviously loved his children and never showed anything but loving behavior to them”. This was so damaging. Scott Bradley got even angrier and developed a severe mistrust of anyone in the mental health field.
In 2011, after fighting so hard for custody, my ex-husband suddenly declared that he wanted to voluntarily terminate his parental rights. While this decision was good for the children’s well-being, it also left them feeling as if they were thrown away like yesterday’s trash.
Scott Bradley started to get in some juvenile trouble. He liked to listen to Eminem. He saw himself as a “white boy from the ghetto,” and started to show signs of delusional behavior.
In 2011, while away at school in Pennsylvania, Scott Bradley got in a car accident that changed his life. While I’m not exactly sure of his exact injuries, he was given oxycodone for the pain. Unaware, as he was away at school, Scott Bradley got addicted to those pills. Soon, he was buying scripts from a crooked doctor in Jersey City, NJ. Eventually, a “friend” suggested he buy heroin “because it’s a lot cheaper.” Obviously, things went from bad to worse. He was fired from a really good job at Mercedes for nodding off in a customer’s car.
We sent him to treatment three times. The first time Scott Bradley had his sister come get him after only a few days and the second time, he got kicked out for bad behavior. By the third time, the treatment seemed to work, and we really thought he was doing better for a while.
However, his addictive behavior continued, and Scott Bradley was selling drugs, exhibiting sketchy behavior. He lied all of the time. I would say, “He could tell me the sky was blue, and I’d go out to check to see if it was suddenly green.” It was such a stressful time. I love my son. I’ve always loved him. I always melted in his eyes. But, the glimpses of Scott Bradley were often very far apart. I mourned the Scott Bradley that I knew before drugs took over. He always had a very good sense of humor. He made me laugh a lot, but he also caused an incredible amount of pain and anxiety.
As a result of the car accident, he was awarded $60,000. My mother and I begged him to let one of us manage it, but he wouldn’t allow that and it was gone within two months.
Around 2014, Scott Bradley got in an ATV accident. This added more physical pain. So, the drug use was amped up. Scott Bradley met a girl who was “anti-drug” and was “keeping him clean” and things seemed a bit better. At some point, Scott Bradley tried coke, crack and meth, with Crack cocaine becoming his new drug of choice.
In June 2016, I divorced my second husband and moved to South Carolina. Scott Bradley and his girlfriend moved to Pennsylvania to live with her parents. In July, Scott Bradley called me and begged me to let him come live with me for “Just a month, until September 1,” and he said he had a job in Florida that was guaranteed. I was very reluctant. I explained to him that I was making a new start in a small southern town. I was living in a quiet neighborhood and didn’t need drama or people talking about me. He swore that his girlfriend was keeping him straight and that I wouldn’t regret it. Eventually I agreed to let Scott Bradley move in,
Luckily, shortly before this, I met my current boyfriend, Eric.
So, Scott Bradley and his girlfriend moved in and it did not go well. When it got closer to September 1, I asked them about their plans to move out. Scott Bradley replied, “Oh, mommy, that fell through.” So, I spent all my time at Eric’s and they stayed at my house which I was paying all the expenses on.
In December, my landlord called me and said, “We’ve got a problem,” revealing that Scott Bradley shot a rifle through another tenant’s window. After speaking with the local Police Department, I learned Scott Bradley was a confidential informant. I didn’t ask too many questions as I assumed, he became a CI because he was busted buying drugs. I was livid and sent him away.
Scott Bradley and his girlfriend moved back north to live with her parents again. Eventually I got a call from the girlfriend’s father, asking when they are coming back to my house. He was “done” with them. I explained that they could not come back. Shortly after that, her dad kicked them out and they got their own place.
In January, Scott Bradley and his girlfriend found out they were pregnant. Things seemed to be good again and Scott Bradley was working! The Scott Bradley that I knew and loved seemed to be coming back!
In September, beautiful Ryan Anthony Curtis was born, and I was so excited to be a “Mimi”! They sent lots of cute pictures of them all doing family things, the pumpkin patch, playing, etc. Scott Bradley, his girlfriend and Ryan came down for a week to visit in December for Christmas and New Years. It was so nice. Scott Bradley had a scab on his face, and I asked him about it. He said, “Oh, I burnt myself with a cigarette.” I thought that was odd but there did not appear to be any signs of drug use. They were both good, loving parents.
On March 4, I got a hysterical call from Scott Bradley. I missed it because I was in the shower. I called back. No answer. I texted. No answer. This went on for a while. Scott Bradley was arrested and put in jail for non-drug related offenses after his girlfriend accused him of fraud and several other things.
From March thru September Scott Bradley was in jail and he called almost every day, telling me how much he loved me. He was clean. He gained 60 pounds in jail. As his time to leave jail approached, I gave him the phone number of a high school friend of mine who helped addicts and could find him a safe place to live.
Scott Bradley got out of jail on September 4th, 2018 and my mother gave him 450 dollars for his first month’s rent. Scott Bradley got a phone on September 6. We talked and texted off and on. In the first couple days, he was staying at a Knight’s Inn. I kept BEGGING him to call my friend to find a safe place to live.
On Saturday, he sent me the picture of the outside of his new residence, in Chester, Pennsylvania. I told him it looked “sketchy” and again implored him to call my friend. On Sunday, we texted on and off. Right before I went to bed Sunday night, I texted him and asked for Ryan’s address, so I could send him a birthday gift. I didn’t hear back from him right away but wasn’t overly concerned. We had Hurricane Florence to prepare for, and I was at work. Around 1 pm I texted him that school was out for rest of the week due to the hurricane. Again, I didn’t hear from him, but he was supposed to be in Boston working, and I assumed he was just busy. However, on Tuesday, I started to get worried/annoyed. Around 2 pm, I said, “You know, when I don’t hear from you, I worry.” Later that evening, I texted “If I don’t hear from you soon, I’m calling the cops.” I often threatened this to “get his attention”. I texted his boss and asked, “Hey, Is Scott with you? Does he have his phone?” His boss immediately called me, saying “OMG, no one called you? I’m so, so, so sorry. Scott is dead. He overdosed.” My world fell apart in that instant. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.
How can the beautiful boy with the most beautiful eyes be DEAD? How? How? How? WHY? WHY? WHY? Who would make me laugh? Why couldn’t I save him? What happened? OMG!