After long decline, a tragic end
34-year old dies in state hospital
Bradley Burns’s life began with much promise and ended with as much tragedy.
His troubles began long before he was committed to Bridgewater State Hospital in 2004 after being found not competent to stand trial in the attempted robbery of a fast food shop in Brighton and the assault of several people and before he allegedly killed another psychiatric patient in a delusional rage.
Burns, of Belmont, was once a physical therapist with a master’s degree from Northeastern University, his family said.
He went into traumatic arrest in the seclusion unit at Bridgewater on May 31 and was taken to Morton Hospital in Taunton, where he was pronounced dead, said Christopher Fallon, spokesman for the state Department of Correction. The official cause of death has not been determined.
Burns’s mother, Margaret, said her 34-year-old son suffered a massive seizure. His mother said Burns was running his own physical therapy practice when he developed adult-onset schizophrenia some time between 1999 and 2004. He was on medication but often resisted taking it, she said.
After several run-ins with police for delusional incidents, his mother said, Burns was sent to Bridgewater after allegedly trying to rob a restaurant in early 2004.
On Aug. 28, 2004, Burns allegedly strangled William Mosher Jr., a bipolar patient being held at Bridgewater, according to court documents. He was found not competent to stand trial and committed again to Bridgewater.
Correction Department officials told the Globe in 2004 that Burns would be placed in the Intensive Treatment Unit at Bridgewater. When he died, he was in the unit’s Therapeutic Seclusion Unit. There, Burns was kept under 24-hour watch with additional staff making rounds every 10 minutes and a doctor evaluating him every three hours, Fallon said.
During his illness and several institutionalizations, Burns routinely hurt himself, gouging at his eyes and slamming his head into walls, his mother said. She said Burns had suffered several concussions.
Two days before he died, Margaret Burns said her son complained of a headache and dizziness and asked his parents to cancel a planned visit.
“He was, by all accounts, a sweet and thoughtful young man who succumbed to an overpowering, severe mental illness,’’ said Leslie Walker, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services. “This is a tragedy.’’
John M. Guilfoil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.