A mother’s nagging suspicion about her child’s death in Columbus in 1971 led cold-case investigators to a Minnesota hospital where the dying father confessed to having struck the baby, police said today.
The father, Thomas Cuturia, has since died, police Maj. Gene Hillhouse said, so police can say they’ve cleared the case, though no one will be charged.
The family was living in what was then the Mockingbird Trailer Court on Cusseta Road in July 1971 when the boy was injured, the major said. The child was taken to The Medical Center in Columbus and died within days.
Cuturia had claimed the boy fell and injured himself, Hillhouse said. Cuturia at the time was a soldier stationed at Fort Benning, and he previously had taken the child to the post’s Martin Army Hospital to be treated for injuries apparently resulting from abuse, Hillhouse said. Doctors at The Medical Center did not know about those previous visits to Martin Army, he said.
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He said the mother contacted Columbus police last June to convey her suspicions, prompting cold-case investigator Sgt. Randy Long to pore over old medical records before traveling to a Veterans Administration hospital in Minnesota to question Cuturia, who after a long illness was on his deathbed. Cuturia confessed to having hit the boy, Hillhouse said.