Two men charged in Chippewa County kidnapping

MARQUETTE — Two men are accused of kidnapping and other charges in the reported abduction of a 5-year-old boy from a Chippewa County home Wednesday night.

George Cunningham and Jon Stygler both were arraigned in 91st District Court in Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday on charges of kidnapping, child endangerment, armed robbery, home invasion, assault with a dangerous weapon, malicious destruction of property and five counts of unlawful imprisonment.

Cunningham, 53, was not given the option of bond. Stygler, 68, had bond set at $1 million with a tether.

They will return to court April 1 for preliminary examination hearings.

Chippewa County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the North Whitefish Point Road home about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a domestic dispute involving a stabbing.

The two men reportedly had abducted the boy after they gagged and bound several other people at the residence, authorities said. Cunningham, the child’s biological father, and Stygler were armed with knives, chemical spray and blunt objects, police said.

Before taking the child, the two men confronted an adult woman outside of the residence, bound and gagged her, then put her in a vehicle.

The two suspects then entered the home, finding an adult man and four children inside. The men sprayed the victims with the chemical spray, bound them with zip ties and duct taped their mouths shut before looking for the 5-year-old boy.

While they searched for the child, one of the family members managed to cut the zip ties and “stabbed at least one of the suspects,” police stated.

The two men, however, were able to flee with the 5-year-old in a camouflage pickup truck. Officers eventually found the truck parked in a driveway along Blueberry Lane, about 5 miles north of the residence where the boy was abducted.

Police learned the two suspects and the child had left on foot, heading east across Lake Superior toward Canada.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and deputies immediately used snowmobiles to begin tracking the suspects as they “fled on foot through the snow and slush,” catching up with them just after 1 a.m. about 2 miles east of Lake Superior’s shoreline.

The two men were taken into custody “without incident” and the child was “safely secured,” police said. All parties were checked for exposure when returned to the mainland.

Cunningham also was identified as a registered sex offender who was on a GPS tether.

“In an attempt to hide or escape detentions, he did cut his tether shortly after the incident,” police said.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan State Police, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the FBI, the Whitefish Township EMS team, and Chippewa County Central Dispatch assisted the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office.