Bill Kurtis' Son Found Dead

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Posted by on July 20, 2009 at 21:58:30:

Bill Kurtis' son dies in Kansas
July 20, 2009 7:03 PM

The son of legendary Chicago newsman Bill Kurtis was found dead early today on the Kansas cattle ranch owned by his father, family members said.

Scott Kurtis, 38, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia since he was in his mid-teens, said his stepmother Donna LaPietra.

He was last seen Sunday during the day and may have died late Sunday or early Monday morning. He was found early today by his sister Mary Kristin Kurtis, who also lives near the ranch.

An autopsy is scheduled this week to determine the cause of death. Kurtis also suffered from heart and thyroid ailements as a result of the schizophrenia, said LaPietra.

"It's a lonely life, it's a very sad illness,'' said LaPietra.

The results of the autopsy are expected to come back to the family by Thursday, she said. At the time of Kurtis' death he was alone in his home on his father's ranch, LaPietra said.

"Quite frankly, there's not very much anyone can do so he struggled with that illness and various complications that arise from it," said LaPietra. "Tragically Bill and I have known for a while that often ... schizophrenics do not live past the age of 40. It was something we always had in the back of our minds and Scott really struggled."

LaPietra said for the last 10 years Scott Kurtis had worked at his father's cattle ranch in Sedan, Kan. A memorial service is scheduled at the ranch for Wednesday, LaPietra said.

LaPietra first met Scott when he was 6-years-old after Bill Kurtis' wife and Scott's mother died from breast cancer.

Scott attended Lincoln Park Elementary School and graduated from the Chicago Academy for the Arts and was an avid guitar player, she said.

LaPietra said that ironically her stepson often said his dream job was to be a truck driver so he could travel and see the country.

"He loved the road, it was always a battle for us to persuade him that it was better to be on the land than on the road,'' LaPietra said. "It was his obsession."

-- Carlos Sadovi (Chicago Breaking News)

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