Curtis Prescott

My son, Curtis Eugene Prescott, 32, died on Jan. 11, 2008. in Mayes County, Oklahoma, shot in the right side of his head with a 12 gage shotgun. The funeral director placed his death at 7 or 8 a.m.  The Medical Examiner said only that it was dark when it happened.

 

According to the ME, Steve Massey, the Mayes County Sheriff's Department labeled Curtis's death a suicide even before they went to the scene. Massey admits basing his "suicide" finding primarily upon their statement that Curtis was on record as having made suicide threats.  There is no record of any such threats.  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 my mother, 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 dad to pick her up.  (None of those people -- the last to see Curtis alive -- were interviewed by law enforcement.) Mayes County has a 43% higher suicide rate than the rest of the state of Oklahoma. To me that speaks volumes about how Mayes County law enforcement handles suspicious deaths.

 

Curtis took a rain check on dinner because he didn't want Courtney to be alone at home. He had been a single parent since Courtney was an infant and was very protective of her.  In July 2007, a man named David Allen Walls had moved into a rental house about a mile away.  That house was owned by Curtis's landlord, Tommy Cagle.  Walls was a convicted burglar, and the landlord's shop, which was connected to his home, was broken into almost immediately.  Curtis found that suspicious and was very concerned about Walls living so close by.

 

Curtis told my mom that 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. Those are not the statements of a man who plans to kill himself.  Besides that, a man who loves his daughter so much that he won't leave her home alone for a couple of hours is not going 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 daddy, she didn't go outside.  Instead she called her grandmother.  It was my mother and sister who found Curtis.  I live in Colorado, and my husband and I flew to Oklahoma as soon as we were notified.  Red flags went up the moment I heard the cops' many conflicting stories and realized that they had no intention of investigating the death of a man whom they violently disliked.

 

A recovering alcoholic, Curtis had overcome his addiction and turned his life around because of his love for Courtney.  However, during his period of drinking, he had made the mistake of spitting on a cop's shoe.  He was charged with a felony and incarcerated for six months.  The Sheriff's Dept. had it in for him ever since, which made it almost impossible for him to find work.  Deputies had even taken computer print-outs of their reports and handwritten things on them about crimes Curtis never committed.  The deputies involved in the non-investigation of Curtis's case were Scott Yeager (who openly hated Curtis), Brandon Yeager, Charles Smallwood, and Albert McKee.

 

Curtis's rental house was just down the drive from the house of his landlord.  Curtis had agreed to keep an eye on the landlord's house while Tommy Cagle and his wife were out of state.  According to Courtney, shortly before she went to bed that night, her dad had told her that he had heard or seen something at the Cagle'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. 

 

It's my belief that Curtis heard something early the next morning that caused him to leave the house again with his shotgun.  His body was found next to the drive-way between his house and the landlord's house.  According to the ME report, he was not wearing socks, which suggests that he jumped into his boots and went out suddenly.

 

According to Oklahoma law, any unattended traumatic death must be investigated. The MCSD did not do that.  There wasn't even an autopsy.  The deputies tried to tell us Curtis was drunk, but there was no alcohol in his system.  Our private investigator later found an empty wine bottle near where Curtis's body was found.  That bottle of homemade wine had been decorating Curtis's entertainment center for years and had been full when I cleaned out the house soon after his death. I had put it in a trash bag in the garage. Someone apparently had found it there, emptied it, and planted it at the death site to suggest that Curtis had drunk it.  Police also tried to say that Curtis was on drugs, but performed no toxicology tests. They didn't test his hands for gun powder residue.  They did not seize his bloody clothing as evidence.  They didn't take the shell casing out of the gun or fingerprint the gun.  When they left the scene, they threw their latex gloves in the driveway and left a shell casing lying next to his head.  That casing, which they chose to ignore, proved that Curtis had fired an earlier shot before the shot that killed him.  We found that casing ourselves and turned it over to our P.I.  Sheriff's reports state that the MCSD contacted the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.  However, the OSBI told our family that they were not contacted and knew nothing about Curtis's death.

 

The cops gave us several different versions of how Curtis supposedly shot himself: (1) in the forehead while squatting; (2) in the roof of his mouth; (3) in the side of his head while sitting Indian style: (4) while kneeling; (5) while sitting flat on the ground.  The ME, Steve Massey, had a sixth scenario.  He said Curtis was standing and held the barrel of the gun with his left hand while pulling the trigger with his right. That would have been hard to accomplish, as the gun was almost 45 inches from barrel to butt and 29 3/4 inches from barrel to trigger. Curtis was only 5'8" and had short arms.

 

According to Courtney, her father's gun was malfunctional and once discharged on its own in a closet where it was stored.  Our P.I. had a gunsmith examine the shotgun, which was old and in very bad shape.  It was determined that the gun would sometimes go off when dropped and had a trigger pull weight that varied from as little as 2 lbs. to a normal pull weight of 7.8 lbs.  The gun is a single shot, break-over type. Our P.I. believes the gun went off accidentally, either because Curtis stumbled while walking down the dark driveway or during a scuffle with an intruder.  Because Curtis had fresh scratches on one of his hands, I tend to believe the latter.

 

Immediately after my son's death, both the landlord's house and Curtis's house were vandalized with screens missing and a door kicked in.  The police didn't even bother taking fingerprints.  Instead, they told the landlord that Curtis was responsible, despite the fact that the damage occurred after he died.  Ironically, the convicted burglar, David Allen Walls, now resides in Curtis's rental house.

 

Additional research has revealed that David Walls' burglary charge on April 28, 2006, had a first degree murder charge attached to it.  It also showed that Walls committed another burglary n June 30, 2010. I ran off copies of those documents, which included ODOC reports. That documentation was fortunate, because when I went back on line to read it again, the information had been changed. The report of the 2006 burglary with the murder connection had been deleted, along with the ODOC records of that event. I can think of no reason for a felon's records to be altered unless he is a confidential informant for the Sheriff's Department or had some other personal connection with law enforcement.  

 

People ask me why I can't just let this go.  There was no insurance involved, and there's nothing to gain financially by refuting the findings of law enforcement.

 

My answer to this is, "I can't let this go because it's WRONG!!!"  Police should not be able to dictate to a medical examiner what to write in his report.  Police 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.

 

Curtis was a good man, highly intelligent with a great sense of humor.  He was a loving son and grandson, and a devoted father.  If he was suicidal -- and there is no indication that he was -- he never would have killed himself in front of his home where his daughter would be the one to find him.  All I am asking is that the Medical Investigator take an unbiased look at the evidence and change the cause of death from "suicide" to "undetermined."  That would make it possible for the case to be reopened and  investigated by an outside agency that was not prejudiced against the victim.  

 

More importantly, it would also prevent a parentless child, who is now being raised by her aunt, to know that, unlike the mother she never knew, her father did not desert her.  Courtney needs  to know that she was loved and cherished and that -- while her father's death may have been either murder or an accident -- he did not deliberately abandon her by taking his own life.

 

Kathy Page  (Curtis's mother)