WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) - He told police he wanted to go to Detroit to hook up with a rapper and start a rap group.
But his plan was foiled while speeding in a stolen Kent County school bus and driving recklessly to his destination.
On Thanksgiving Day, police said Josiah Daniel Curtis of Kentwood tried to steal seven school buses from a locked, fenced-in lot in the 3700 block of Jefferson Avenue SE in Wyoming.
Police told 24 Hour News 8 that Curtis climbed the fence and found the keys for the buses in the vehicles. School officials said they thought the buses were safe behind the locked fence, even though bus keys are almost always left in the ignition.
Police said Curtis crashed several buses into a loading dock and into portions of the fence. He then managed to drive one of the buses away from the scene.
Authorities were able to track him down in Washtenaw County, as he was allegedly speeding and passing other vehicles. Police conducted a traffic stop and arrested Curtis at that time for not having a driver's license.
Curtis' mother told police he has a history of mental illness.
"Our biggest fear is that he will hurt someone," father Dale Curtis told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.
Curtis' parents said their son started showing signs of mental illness in mid- to late high school, but wasn't officially diagnosed with bipolar and schizo-affective disorders until age 20.
In March 2009, a day after enrolling as a student in the Kendall College of Art and Design, Curtis caused a scene outside of the school. He sprayed a can of aerosol in the entry way of the downtown building, began to undress and then left.
His bizarre behavior -- captured on video at the time -- prompted the evacuation of the school, though no one hurt.
Police swarmed the area and eventually tracked him down.
Probate court records document the Curtis family's effort to get Josiah help. In one year alone, he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals five times. But each time the court orders ran out after six months, Curtis went off his medication again.
His parents hope to see laws changed to make it easier to extend those court orders requiring Curtis to get treatment.
"We are not alone," Dale Curtis said Tuesday. "There are lots of families affected by mental illness. We're just the only ones willing to go on TV."
Josiah Curtis is well known by local police for bizarre behavior when he's off his medication. But less than a year ago, former guardians said he was dong well.
After 2009 Kendall College incident, he was taken under the wing of the Servants Center, a Grand Rapids-based organization that cares for the homeless and mentally ill.
Up until April of this year, Curtis was doing well. His guardians at the Servants Center saw to it that he was housed in a place where he was supervised and kept on medication that kept what they called bizarre and potentially dangerous behavior at bay.
"Things were going very well," said Patrick Cameron of the Servants Center. "He's intelligent. He's very talented. He's very artistic."
But in April, Curtis petitioned the court for a change and with that, Servants Center staff says, came a dramatic change in behavior. Curtis decided that he wanted a different guardian -- a 24-year-old woman named Maranda Shear, who is a friend of his.
"We did not believe the person he was asking to be his guardian was a suitable fit," said Cameron. "We cautioned strongly against that."
Servants Center administrators told 24 Hour News 8 that they fought the petition before a probate court judge but ultimately lost their battle to keep Curtis under their care.
"It is frustrating, but unfortunately the law allows a person to choose a guardian," said Cameron.
They saw Curtis on the streets and could tell that things had gone bad again. They share the concern of Curtis' parents, but lack legal standing to do anything about it.
"I was the last to know about any of this," Shear told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. "His condition has nothing to do with me being his guardian. ... This has been completely out of my hands."
Josiah Curtis is currently in the Washtenaw County Jail. He faces charges of driving without a license and receiving and concealing stolen property.
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