exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in



Author: Julie Knipe Brown, Daily News Staff Writer

Accused child molester Thomas Cusick, a Bucks County songwriter who claimed he was a famous composer to the stars, recorded his suicide message on an audiotape found beside his body in a North Jersey motel Tuesday, authorities said yesterday.

Police said he apparently died of a drug overdose.

In his message, recited like a poem on a tape dubbed with background music, Cusick professes his innocence and talks about his abused childhood and his love for the 28 different children he took into his home over the years, a law-enforcement source told the Daily News.

In a laminated three-page suicide note, Cusick, 48, claims the charges against him were trumped up, and that he could no longer handle the strain that the criminal case had placed on him and his family.

Beside his body he had propped several framed photographs, some of them of the boys he cared for and possibly molested, sources said.

"He basically on the tape said he didn't do it," said a law-enforcement source, adding that the tape appeared to be professionally done because it was carefully dubbed with music that corresponded to the words he spoke on the tape.

Bucks County Prosecutor Michelle Henry said Cusick's body was found by a maid at the South Brunswick, N.J., Holiday Inn about 4 p.m. Tuesday, one day before he was scheduled to appear in court for pretrial motions on 33 counts of child abuse filed against him last year.

Authorities alleged that over the past 20 years, while living in Staten Island, N.Y., and Middletown, Bucks County, Cusick adopted or became a foster father to dozens of children, most of them boys, whom he sexually molested.

At yesterday's hearing, Henry intended to file charges from seven more victims who came forward since the case was filed, and she also hoped to get his bail revoked because he had tried to bribe one of his victims into not testifying by offering to buy him a car.

"Innocent people don't commit suicide," Henry said yesterday. "It's a tragedy for everybody involved, especially the children."

The abused children, who at the time of the abuse ranged in age from 8 to 17, were undergoing counseling yesterday, Henry said. Cusick adopted the children, from troubled homes, through child welfare agencies.

"Our main concern right now is the victims in this case, that they are able to get beyond this," Henry said.

Cusick checked into the motel late Sunday night, registering under the alias Henry Amoroso - an amalgamation of the last name of his prosecutor (Henry) and Detective Andrew Amoroso, the Middletown police detective who investigated the case.

"The scene looked like an overdose," said South Brunswick Det. James Kinard, explaining that there were various bottles of pills in the bathroom, in a suitcase and beside the bed.

Kinard, however, said investigators won't know exactly how Cusick died, or what, if any pills he took, until they get the results of toxicology tests. He said Cusick had been taking prescribed medication for several different medical problems.

Kinard said Cusick's door was locked, and his body was found fully clothed in the bed. He confirmed that there was a note and a tape found. Cusick also left a tape recorder and a group of family photographs.

Cusick's lawyer, Kevin M. Zlock of Langhorne, learned of his client's death from his common-law wife, Donna, Tuesday night. He last saw Cusick Saturday.

"He never ever considered a guilty plea," Zlock said, adding that Cusick didn't appear despondent or suicidal, and that his wife was shocked to learn of his suicide.

"His death is a surprise to all of us," Zlock said.

At the time of his arrest last October, Cusick claimed he was a successful composer who sold his work to recording artists such as Ricky Martin, Lionel Richie and Barry Manilow. The claim later proved to be false.

At one point, Cusick attracted national attention, appearing twice on CNN to talk about his willingness to adopt so many children.

2000 Apr 13