Child found safe hours after being abducted by biological father, other man


    George Cunningham (left) and John Stygler (right) were taken into custody by the Chippewa County Sheriff's Office shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday in connection to the abduction of Zephaniau Cunningham, 5. (Photo Courtesy: Chippewa County Sheriff's Office/Michigan Amber Alert)

    CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- Investigators have released more information into the abduction of a child in Chippewa County.

    Deputies were called to a home on North Whitefish Point Road in Whitefish Township around 7:15 p.m. Wednesday for a domestic dispute involving a stabbing.

    When deputies arrived on scene, they learned two men kidnapped, with the use of weapons, a 5-year-old boy from the home and left the scene towards Whitefish Point lighthouse.

    Before taking the child, the men located an adult female outside of the home, bound and gagged her before placing her in a vehicle parked outside, according to Chippewa County Undersheriff Greg Postma.

    Postma said the suspects then gained entry to the home where a male adult and four children were encountered.

    According to investigators, the men, identified as George Cunningham, 53, and Jon Stygler, 68, were armed with knives, a chemical spray and blunt objects.

    Investigators said when Cunningham and Stygler entered the home, sprayed the victims with the chemical spray, zip tied them and duct taped their mouths shut.

    After tying up the victims, both men began looking for the 5-year-old in the house.

    While the men were searching, one of the family members was able to get themselves free and stab at least one of the men, said Postma.

    Once the men located the child, they left the scene in a camouflage pick-up, according to Postma.

    A short time later, law enforcement located the involved vehicle parked approximately five miles north of the original scene on Blueberry Lane.

    While investigators were running surveillance on the house, and making contact with the occupants, they learned Cunningham, Stygler and the child left the truck and headed across Lake Superior toward Canada on foot.

    Michigan Department of Natural Resources units and Chippewa County sheriff's deputies immediately began using snowmobiles to begin tracking the men as they continued on foot through the snow and slush.

    Cunningham, Stygler and the child were found approximately two miles east of the Lake Superior shoreline.

    Both men were taken into custody and the child was safely secured, said Postma.

    Once back on the main land, all parties involved were checked for exposure.

    According to investigators, Cunningham is the biological father to the child.

    Records indicate Cunningham is a registered sex offender and was on a GPS tether at the time of the incident.

    Postma said Cunningham cut his tether during the incident in an attempt to hide or escape detection.

    Cunningham and Stygler face numerous charges including, but not limited to:

    • Kidnapping
    • Assault
    • Home invasion
    • Child endangerment

    The investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be added.

    Whitefish Township School was canceled Thursday due to the incident.

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