Family Searches for Answers in Son's Death
Family members say Robert Scott III disappeared on Sunday evening before being found dead three days later in a local waterway.
Family and friends of Robert Scott III are trying to figure out how the 20-year-old ended up dead and in the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River where he was found on Wednesday afternoon.
In the midst of their grief, they described Scott as a slightly shy, loyal son and a loving father of three young children.
"He was a sweety," said grandmother Helena Thomas in an interview at the Scott family home on Burlington Street in Hyattsville where he lived. "He stayed to himself….sometimes he'd play basketball, but he was always on the computer."
"It hurt to hear that he was gone," said Robert Scott III's father, Robert Scott, Jr. "I couldn't believe it. He was a nice son."
The Scott family has lived in and around Hyattsville for generations. Robert Scott III had also spent his entire life in the area. He attended Bladensburg High School, but dropped out of school before he could graduate with his class in 2010.
Robert Scott III was unemployed at the moment. His father said he had worked at a number of area restaurants, most recently at a Checker's fast food restaurant in Bladensburg.
Robert Scott III was, however, not unknown to local law enforcement agencies. In 2009 and 2010, he faced multiple assault charges stemming from two incidents, but prosecutors did not pursue the cases. In March 2011, he was charged with theft of property valued at less than $1,000, but prosecutors did not pursue the charges. Most recently, he was facing charges for second-degree assault, second-degree escape, and resisting arrest stemming from a July 2011 incident.
He is also listed as the complainant in a Jan. 2010 second-degree assault case brought against his father. Prosecutors did not pursue the charges.
Robert Scott III's family first noticed he was missing late Sunday evening. According to Thomas, he left the house on foot Sunday morning to visit his mother who lives in West Hyattsville. At some point during the day, he left his mother's house promising to return around 7:30 p.m. that evening.
When 7:30 p.m. came and went with no sign of Robert Scott III and the hours dragged on into morning and next day, the family became increasingly worried.
"If he was late, he'd usually call and tell us where he's at," said Thomas.
The next day, she and other family members called around to friends trying to locate her grandson. She even called the county's Department of Corrections to see if her son had been arrested. The family did not know of his fate until late Wednesday evening when they were visited by police bearing tragic news.
Robert Scott III did not own a car, and as a result he walked or took mass transit everywhere he needed to go. Family members said that he knew his way around the area well.
What happened between the time he left his mother's house on Sunday, Jan. 15 and the discovery of his body floating in the river around 3:40 p.m. on Jan. 18, puzzles the Scott family. Police say there were no obvious signs of trauma on Robert Scott III's body. The family said Scott did not suffer from any known life-threatening medical conditions, and they wondered if he somehow accidentally ended up in the river. His body has been taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.
The death remains under investigation, currently being handled by the Prince George's County Police Department's Homicide Unit.
Walking over the Anacostia Tributary Trail footbridge spanning the river near the intersection of Queens Chapel and Ager roads where the body was found, Mount Rainier resident David Womack said the possibility of Robert Scott III's death being a homicide did not scare him from using the trails.
"I feel safe on the trail when I walk," said Womack. "I feel walking across the street is more dangerous."
Anyone with information on the death of Robert Scott III is asked to call the Prince George's County Police Department's Homicide Unit at 301-772-4925.