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Mother: Arson suspect was on
way to recovery
Death came just as he was
eligible to return to center

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Curtis Durbin, age 20, was on his way to recovery when his life ended tragically, his mother says.

Durbin, suffering from depression as well as battling drug and alcohol addiction, sought treatment at a residential treatment center, but was kicked out after violating an administrative policy, his mother says.

A short time later, Durbin was found dead in a white GMC pickup truck, one of a dozen vehicles he allegedly set afire in Platte City from around 5-7 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 3.

His mother, Victoria Durbin, said her son was undergoing treatment at Pathways Community Health in Warrensburg and was making substantial progress before he was kicked out.

Victoria said Curtis was asked to leave the treatment facility for 21 days after he told administrators at Pathway he found a “blunt” in the coat of his pocket, but had the willpower to throw it away.

By not giving the drug paraphernalia to his counselor at the treatment center, he was in violation of an administrative policy, said Victoria.

Curtis’ 21-day mandatory leave from the center was up Feb. 2, but he was waiting for a bed to open back up.

“When I brought him home after he was discharged I got to spend the best three weeks I have ever spent with my child. We had some really good heart-to-heart conversations,” his mother said.

Curtis was extremely upset he was forced to leave the residential treatment center, but understood it was imperative for him to finish his treatment, his mother said.

“I have a little bit of resentment towards Pathway,” said Victoria. “I talked daily to Curtis's counselor. He was making great progress…I begged and begged for them to keep him in the treatment facility.”

“When you're dealing with an adult who needs help, they have to say they need help before anybody will do anything for you. I was ripping my hair out when he finally said “I will go,” said Victoria.

As for his final hours, Victoria said it was typical for Curtis to take walks at night after she had gone to bed. His car was broken down so he would walk to Conoco or his friend's house, but he would always return shortly thereafter.

His mother said on the night of Feb. 2, she kissed Curtis goodnight before going to bed. Curtis then met up with a friend at midnight. According to his friend, Curtis appeared to be fine. At 3 a.m. Curtis was seen by kids in a nearby neighborhood. They said he appeared to be intoxicated.

Victoria said it was hard on Curtis not having a father. “His dad would pop back into his life here and there,” his mother said. “Curtis would get all excited and then he would disappear again.”

Curtis was also under the care of a psychologist at Tri-County Mental Health and was taking Paxil, she said. During a recent conversation with his doctor, Victoria was told the last time Curtis met with his doctor he appeared to be in the best shape he had ever been.

She said she is anxious to receive the toxicology reports that will explain what was in Curtis’s system at the time of his death.

Formerly of Butler, the Durbins have resided in Platte City for nearly five years. Durbin dropped out of high school in the ninth grade prior to relocation in Platte City.

Curtis's funeral was held Saturday, Feb. 11 at D.W. Newcomer's Sons White Chapel Funeral Home.