Help those who saved my little girl

This past week my six year old daughter, Zoe, had been abducted by her mother. During a court supervised visit, Zoe's mother Wendy had fled out the back door of a restaurant in Oak Park, IL, dragging Zoe behind her. Three hellish and incredible days later, Zoe was found alive and well in Farmington Hills, MI. Her mother was taken into custody and we drove through the night to return Zoe to her home just nine hours after she was located. 

Zoe's quick recovery was an answer to thousands of prayers. She is safe and whole and for this I am forever grateful. In addition to the tireless efforts of law enforcement, especially Oak Park Police, there is another group to whom I owe Zoe's safe return: the Civil Court system. Because the divorce was not final, yet, everyone involved in this proceeding were able to complete in civil court what often takes days or weeks in the criminal system. A group of lawyers worked literally day and night since Zoe's abduction to rapidly provide law enforcement with access to evidence, required testimony to escalate the missing persons case, freezing of assets, coordination with detectives, and at the very end even Public Relations consulting to utilize our one best resource, the media.

Without their truly heroic efforts, it is certain in my mind that I wouldn't have found Zoe at all; she was located several hundred miles from home and just an hour from the Canadian border.

These individuals do not draw a salary of any kind, they are paid directly by their clients. Namely me. Because this happened at the tail end a two year divorce, I am already on the brink of bankruptcy and was beginning to accrue significant legal debt. Knowing that I could not pay did not stop these professionals from throwing in every resource they had into my daughter's recovery. They did it not for me, but for the honest love of my daughter. A little girl they're not even allowed to meet. Even with significant deductions and forgiveness, my current legal debt is currently over $100,000.00.

I'm asking for donations, anything anyone can afford, even $10, to help pay them. I need to be very clear that Zoe has been recovered, this is not a fund to save her. While I am not rich I am also not poor, Zoe will be well loved and cared for no matter your donation.

I am asking for your help to keep the consequences of this abduction from harming the people who deserve it the least. If I am unable to pay this will cause very real hardship for the people who helped me. This is a small firm who very carefully selects their clients.

For the lawyers themselves, this would be no different if you or I were told our paychecks would be cut in half for six months. They've also expensed very real resources and accrued debt of their own in their efforts.

For impact to Zoe, I will be financially crippled until her teenage years, possibly adulthood. This means more than having more toys or a bigger home. My ability to provide access to high quality education and a home in a safe neighborhood are threatened. It may be impossible to provide at all for her higher education.

I love my daughter very much, and I've come to love the people who have selflessly helped me see her safe again. Nobody deserves to suffer for what has happened. I honestly feel shame for not being able to pay these bills alone - Zoe is my responsibility as a father and these are duly my debts and mine alone. The only thing that would make that shame worse is to allow those I love to suffer more because I was too proud to ask for help.

Support for Zoe has been literally overwhelming. In my darkest moments these past few days, just reading the hundreds of words of encouragement and seeing her notice shared thousands of times gave me hope when all else failed. Please share this message as well, and please help with any donation you can.
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    • $100 
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  • Dan Rimer 
    • $50 
    • 44 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 44 mos
  • Sandy Liddell 
    • $50 
    • 44 mos
  • Chris Paquette 
    • $200 
    • 44 mos
See all


Josh Stegmeyer 
Schiller Park, IL
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