Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Single custodial dad abandons 11-year-old son and disappears (Lakeville, Minnesota)

Weird case. The reporters never specifically identify STEVEN ALEXANDER CROSS as a single custodial dad, but he must be. The boy is now placed with "his aunt." We see mention of an "ex-girlfriend." There is NO mention of the boy's mother. Why? Is she deceased? Why the silence?


UPDATE: Nationwide Search for Lakeville Man Charged with Abandoning Son Continues

Authorities nationwide are looking for Steven Alexander Cross, whom authorities say left his 11-year-old son a note and disappeared shotly before acing foreclosure.

By Betsy Sundquist and Troy Thompson
August 23, 2011

A Lakeville man accused of abandoning his 11-year-old son last month and sending the tearful boy to a neighbor’s home was still missing late Tuesday, a day after reports surfaced that a nationwide warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Steven Alexander Cross, 60, is charged in Dakota County with neglect of a child. Authorities say his 11-year-old son arrived home on the afternoon of July 18 to find his father gone. The boy found a note from his father, saying Cross had left for good; it instructed the boy to get his PlayStation and go to a neighbor’s home.

The boy rode his bicycle to the neighbor’s home in tears and gave her a sealed note from his father, which asked the neighbor and her husband to take guardianship of the child.

The child has since been placed with his aunt in Minneapolis, according to Hilary DeVary, a Lakeville private investigator who contacted Patch on Tuesday.

DeVary also works with the Financial Integrity Foundation, a Lakeville-based organization that helps foreclosed families keep their houses. Because Cross’s home is in foreclosure, DeVary hopes to track him down to see if the foundation can help.

“We want to see if there’s anything we can do,” DeVary said. “We have investors who can go in and buy back the house, if that’s what he wants.”

DeVary said she had spoken to Cross’s neighbors, one of whom told her that Cross had said that his dream was to work on a beach, selling hot dogs.

Cross is an architect who apparently has been out of work for some time and was suffering from a series of financial woes. In the note to his son, Cross wrote:

“If this paper is wet it’s because I am crying so bad. You know your dad loves you more than anything. This economy got [illegible] there are no jobs for architects so I have to go because the [sheriff] will take the house July 27th. There will be no more me. …"

On July 5, less than two weeks before disappearing, a visibly upset Cross spoke at the city council meeting, criticizing the way the city was going about converting the vacant Lakeville police station into a senior citizen center.

Cross briefly cited his resume and lamented a perceived lack of opportunity for architects to bid on the project. He advocated selling the building rather than converting it before leaving the chambers visibly upset.

Cross graduated in 1969 from West Orange High School in New Jersey before attending Ohio University from 1969-1973. He attended the University of Minnesota's Architect and Landscape program from 1973-1975. Cross told the council he also taught at the U of M and Dakota County Technical College.

Records show Cross purchased his home on Jasmine Avenue in Lakeville in 1995 and started his own architectural business shortly thereafter.

Dakota County records show a string a judgments against Cross for approximately $34,000 beginning in 2007.

Cross was twice arrested for driving while intoxicated, the latest charge coming in 2006. He was also convicted in 2009 in Scott County of failing to surrender impounded license plates.

On July 18, Cross disappeared.

The neighbor to whom the boy was sent has not returned telephone messages left by Patch. According to DeVary, the neighbor told people she was willing to look after the boy, though Cross never made formal guardianship arrangements with her family, according to court records.

The neighbor received a phone call July 25 from a woman who identified herself as an ex-girlfriend of Cross’s. She told the Lakeville neighbor that she had received an e-mail from Cross, sent from a library in Carmel, Calif., telling her that he had left his son behind and that he was depressed and sleeping in the street.

Cross’s e-mail instructed the ex-girlfriend to call his son on his cell phone and to let him know if his son answered the call. In the e-mail, Cross said he was “scared and hopelessly depressed,” and that he “probably only [had] a couple of days.”

Carmel Police Detective Rachelle Lightfoot said Tuesday that the department’s efforts to find Cross were unsuccessful.

“There was a tip that he might have used a computer in our city,” she said. “But the tip couldn’t be confirmed as reliable.”

Carmel police took a photograph of Cross to the library and showed it to employees, but nobody recognized him, Lightfoot said.

Cross’s Lakeville phone number is still operational. A voice-mail message says: “Hi, this is Steve. Please leave your name and number and we’ll get back to you.”

Cross’s foreclosed home, located in a neighborhood of mature trees, rolling streets and large lots, is clearly abandoned. A notice posted on the home’s front windows warns away trespassers; another one, dated Aug. 1, notes that personal property left behind has been taken to storage.

The floors in the home’s entryway and living room have been stripped, as though Cross was in the middle of a renovation project. A stack of flattened packing boxes is visible through the windows, along with an abandoned baseball lying on the entryway floor.

Cross is listed as 6-feet tall and 190 pounds with blue eyes and sandy hair. Anyone with information about Cross is asked to contact their local authorities.