Dying father admits to killing toddler son, 40 yrs ago - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Dying father admits to killing toddler son, 40 yrs ago

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  A man on his deathbed has admitted that he was responsible for the death of his toddler nearly 40 years ago.

Columbus Police officials say 18-month-old Bradley Cuturia died at the Medical Center in June of 1971 but it was never reported to police. The child had been abused before unbeknownst to police and had been treated several times before at Martin Army Hospital on Fort Benning.

Major Gene Hillhouse, who oversees the department's Major Crimes Unit, says the assault happened at the family's home in the old Mockingbird Trailer Court off of Cusseta Road. The trailer park no longer exists.

Hillhouse tells WTVM the baby was struck at least once in the face, maybe more, and died from his injuries two days after he was admitted to the Medical Center. Police say originally, it was reported that Bradley fell down one step.

In the early part of 2009, the child's mother, Cheryl Cuturia, contacted the Columbus Police Department saying she was concerned her child had been killed by his father, Thomas Cuturia. Hillhouse says the couple had moved to Wisconsin after their son's death and have been separated "for quite some years."

Cold Case detectives investigated the case for a year to determine whether or not her claims held any weight. In late 2010, they tracked 60-year-old Thomas Cuturia down to a VA Hospital in Minnesota where he was dying of cancer and went to interview him. Hillhouse says there, the dying man confessed to being behind the deadly blow that killed his young son. Police say Cuturia was weak and answered detectives by shaking his head yes or no and giving very short answers.

Thomas Cuturia has died since his confession. 

Cheryl Cuturia spoke with WTVM over the phone from her home in Cameron, Wisconsin Tuesday night.

She says now that the case has been cleared with her ex husband's confession, her family has closure and her baby has justice.

On the night her son was assaulted in 1971, she says she worked overtime and when she got home, her neighbor told her Bradley had been rushed to the hospital. When she got there, she found her ex crying, saying the toddler accidentally fell and hit his head hard on a step two inches high. At the time, he was a soldier stationed on Fort Benning.

From the start, Cheryl Cuturia says she knew something wasn't right about the death but her husband told her she was imagining things and that he would never hurt his son. She claims he was abusive and after years of being battered, controlled and manipulated, she divorced him in 1987.

The couple had two more children together after Bradley and when Bradley's brother started asking about how the baby died, she was more determined than ever to find out the truth. Being young and naive, Cheryl says she didn't know where to start or how to prove what happened. She thinks the baby was crying that night and her ex hit him with his fist across the side of his head. When she sought legal advice, she says lawyers told her to move on and focus on her other children.

Finally, she turned to Columbus Police as a last attempt and now she says she has the answers and peace of mind she's been waiting for. She says her story is a message for other abused women to fight for what they know is right.

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