When Samuel Motsay walked the halls of Center Grove High School, he typically carried an athletic bag alongside his backpack, and he considered both bags essential.
The Center Grove sophomore was making plans to study finance in college, and the backpack had what he needed for the honors courses he knew he needed to excel to prepare for the kind of job he wanted.
The athletic bag had Samuel Motsay’s basketball gear. The teen had been playing basketball for half his life, and he liked that when people saw him with the bag they knew he was an athlete, his mother Jeanine Motsay said.
This is who Jeanine Motsay remembers when she thinks about her son — a quiet, driven young man who took pride in everything he did.
It’s important to Jeanine Motsay that people remember Samuel Motsay’s life when they hear his name, and not only how he died.
Police believe Samuel Motsay had taken a new, synthetic drug known as 251 NBOMe, or N-Bomb, before he was found dead the morning of May 11. The drug is a synthetic hallucinogen and is so new that local police knew almost nothing about it before his death.
In the nearly three months since her son’s death, Jeanine Motsay has started learning as much as she can about N-Bomb and is working with local police to help spread the word about the dangers of synthetic drugs. On Tuesday, at a community forum about N-Bomb that was planned after Samuel Motsay died, Jeanine Motsay will share the story of her son’s life, and how her family is trying to deal with his death.
Her hope is that talking about synthetic drugs and making parents and teens aware of their dangers will prevent another child from dying, Jeanine Motsay said.
“The only thing more difficult than knowing your child has died is living every day after that,” Jeanine Motsay said. “Information needs to get out there, and I think this is one of the ways that can happen.”
A careful, thoughtful kid
Samuel Motsay was known by his family for being deliberate and calculated when planning for his future.
When he planned his high school schedule, he always kept college in mind. During his freshman year, Samuel Motsay job shadowed a financial adviser, and he immediately thought he had found his future career. He was skilled at math and wanted to learn more about how to analyze the stock market and make investment decisions.
The teen decided he wanted to study finance at Indiana University in Bloomington and as a sophomore started taking honors courses at Center Grove High School. He planned on taking accounting courses as a junior and to intern at his stepfather’s financial advising firm his senior year.
The goal was to prepare himself as much as possible so that he had all of the experience he needed to get into college and find a job, Jeanine Motsay said.
“He didn’t want to fail. He didn’t want to set himself up to not do the best that he could,” Jeanine Motsay said.
Samuel Motsay was usually shy and quiet, but as he grew older he was learning to analyze and debate. During dinner, he would ask questions and share opinions about news stories or about whether certain athletes were under- or overrated. Jeanine Motsay smiles when she talks about the debates, which she said showed her son was growing into someone who could process and question what was happening in the world.
The Motsay family moved to Indiana when Samuel Motsay and his younger brother Nick Motsay were in elementary school. In third grade, Samuel Motsay started playing basketball, and since then he almost always had a ball or his workout gear close by. He played with leagues in and around Center Grove and eventually joined the high school’s freshman and junior varsity teams.
Samuel Motsay was very health-conscious. He regularly exercised and hated to eat fast food. If someone handed him a sandwich with cheese he would remove it and remind the person that cheese is nothing but calories.
The teen had a basketball game the night of May 9 and again the following morning. May 10 was a typical Saturday for the family, as he helped his mother run errands and hang flowers around the house before a third basketball game in Carmel that night.
As the family drove home Saturday night, Samuel Motsay asked if he could stay the night with some friends. He didn’t usually ask to stay out on Saturday nights, so his parents said yes.
A fatal mistake
Samuel Motsay went to stay with two other boys in a house in the Eagle Trace subdivision. At some point Saturday night, police said he sent messages to Kyle Hazzard, 24, of Greenwood, and Jordan Adamowicz, 19, of Indianapolis, asking to buy drugs, and the two men brought N-Bomb to the house.
Center Grove High School could randomly test Samuel Motsay for drugs because he was an athlete, and his mother suspects someone may have told him that N-Bomb was undetectable.
At 8:30 Sunday morning, one of the boys at the house called 911 after finding Samuel Motsay unconscious. By the time emergency workers arrived at the house, he had been dead too long to be resuscitated.
About the same time, Jeanine Motsay was sitting with her husband, Ed Ochoa, drinking coffee, remembering the basketball games from the past two days and planning the day ahead. The family was going to drive to Danville, Illinois, to celebrate Mother’s Day with relatives.
Then the doorbell rang. The police officers standing outside the door told Jeanine Motsay that her son was dead.
“I remember how it felt the moment before the doorbell rang,” Jeanine Motsay said. “And I know I will never feel that happy again.”
Investigators found blotter paper near Samuel Motsay’s body that tested positive for N-Bomb. Police also found messages on Samuel Motsay’s phone with Hazzard and Adamowicz. They arrested Hazzard and Adamowicz along with another man, 24-year-old Zachary Catron, of Indianapolis.
Jeanine Motsay doesn’t believe that her son had been using drugs for long, and she isn’t sure Samuel Motsay knew how dangerous the drug he took could be.
No one can predict how they will react to a synthetic drug, she said.
“What they’ve made is poison,” Jeanine Motsay said.
Her son made a mistake, she said.
And it’s important that other teens know what can happen if they take N-Bomb so that they can avoid making the same mistake, she said.
“He was not perfect,” Jeanine Motsay said. “None of us are.”