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Minn. Police Say Stressed-Out Dad Abandoned Son

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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LAKEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Lakeville man is charged with abandoning his 11-year-old son.

According to the criminal complaint, 60-year-old Steve Alexander Cross left a note for his son telling him to pack up his PlayStation and go stay with neighbors.

“I think he knew he was losing his house quickly and I think he just kind of snapped,” said neighbor, Sharon Engebretson.

Engebretson lived across the street from Steven Cross and his son.

“You would see them playing catch in the front yard. From all appearances, he seemed to be an engaged father and was good to his son,” said Engebretson.

However, Cross was an unemployed architect and depressed. His house was about to be foreclosed. So, on the morning of July 18, his 11-year-old son woke up to find his father gone and a letter reading, “If this paper is wet it’s because I’m crying so bad. You know your dad loves you more than anything.”

The note goes on to tell the boy about the foreclosure, and that he should go to a neighbor’s house. It ends with, “There are many great years ahead for you. Not so for me.”

“He’s just a very personable, nice young boy who is in a heart-breaking situation. You feel for the little boy because he has had his whole world ripped from him,” said Engebretson.

An e-mail sent to an ex-girlfriend a few weeks ago placed Cross in Carmel, Calif. where he told her he was living on the street. His son’s mother gave up custody of the boy years ago. Now, the 11-year-old’s only home and the only parent he has ever known are gone.

“This is certainly an extremely sad and disturbing case, the likes of which we have not seen before,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.

Police in California have not had any luck locating Steven Cross. His son is staying with a foster family but could soon be moving in with a relative. If Cross is found he will face one charge of child neglect. If convicted of neglecting a child, he could face up to a year in jail.

Investigators say they are also looking for the boy’s mother.

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