Minn. Police Say Stressed-Out Dad Abandoned Son

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.

More from John Lauritsen
  • http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2011/08/26/police-stressed-out-dad-abandoned-son/ Police: Stressed-Out Dad Abandoned Son « CBS Minnesota

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  • Dave's Not Here

    Class act all the way. Way to go, sir.

    • Iconoclast

      More like Steve’s not here.

  • TL

    Great…another child scarred for life. Thanks mom and pops!

    Why are people allowed to procreate?!?!?!?!?!

    OK, to be pc…why are certain people allowed to procreate?!?!?!?!?!

    • Common sense

      So this man has nobody else to count on for help in raising this boy, he has lost his job, and now his home. He has obviously lost his grip on what to do with this situation/reality and you people are judging this person!?!? What’s wrong with you people obviously this guy needs some help.

      I hope when it’s my time to go before god, I can say, with a decent amount of certainty, that I did not judge my fellow man/people. The only thing we as individuals need to do is judge whether a person needs our help, otherwise we should allow our god to make those other calls.

      • Dawn

        Why didn’t the neighbors and others who know the struggling dad offer to help this man out? There are certainly enough people waiting in line to judge him. People here don’t care about anybody but themselves. “Minnesota nice!” NOT!

  • Dan

    Typical…. don’t offer help because he’s not a multi-billion dollar credit industry insead lets throw him in jail when he obviously needs mental health assistance.

    • Dave's Not Here

      Mental health assistance? More like he needs a boot up his arse.

  • Murph

    Latest poll says that 87% of all voters believe that ALL members of Congress should be sent packing to other countries with such a note!

  • Kevin

    Stresseed? THis moron needs to be in jail! Political correctness is bs! Jail this pile of garbage!

  • Rue

    My heart is broken imagining this little boy reading that notes. I hope police find his dad well since those notes sound suicidal notes. This economic is giving so much stress to so many families.

    • Trev

      Yes, the economy has been stressful for everyone. But we choose how to deal with it. The economy did not abandon the boy, the father did.

      • Laurie Matson

        No the economy has not been stressfull for everyone. It hasen’t bothered my family or my husbands family one bit. depends on what type of field you worked in. My husband is in the manufacturing business and we have been gobbled up and spit out and it has been terrible. Our families don’t really give a damn about us. It didden’t affect them.

  • tom

    tell your story to the media and presto the whole complection changes suddenly theres money for everyone!

    • Charlie

      @ Tom… what is your point? Where/who is the money?
      Collection for the kid, sure… but, you lost us…

  • godless

    He is doing the right thing when he has no other way. That is if he is unemployed and Single father. He is giving his son a chance at life. Like Rue said, the note sound suicidal.

  • Rose Nixon

    I have to agree in that this man made an awful choice that will scar his son. Telling the boy his mother is really alive is sad as well. But how many times have we read that a parent murders their family? As someone already stated, these letters sound suicidal . He made the best of bad choices. I hope the best for all.

  • joe

    So, this dude had a child when he was in his late 40’s. Let’s remember this the next time you hear about someone in his or her teens having a child.

    • Horrific

      Notice there is no comment about mom
      That’s yet another layer of stress and the dude seems to have gone off the deep end. Nope – does not make it right. It does mean he’s not right in the mind at this point in time.
      What a tragic story – prays go out to the son. Wow

  • iswearbuyit

    I would agree that there’s a certain degree of mental illness here. Depression is a form of paralysis that can cloud one’s judgement to incapacitating levels. This could be why he thought he had no other choice. People respond to duress in different ways. I consider myself lucky to have had military training early on in life to give me the “do whatever it takes” spirit. I don’t buy that he had no other choice. To other people on the outside looking in, it’s easy to see the abundance of choices he may have had. There are plenty of jobs out there. People just aren’t willing to downgrade or work mulitple ones in order to do what it takes. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s entitlement. Maybe it’s both. Whatever the case may be, I subscribe to the belief that a Job, Career, or multiple ones simply aren’t enough these days in the first place. The beauty of the capitalist economy is that we’re free to seek opportunities at will. And there are plenty out there. You just need to know where to look. Work to educate yourself on things that you may not know. Push yourself into areas that you may not feel comfortable with. This is how you survive in today’s economy. This is how you get ahead. This is how you get a feeling of hope and shut down feelings of despair. Become a “Personal Conglomerate”. Google it by name. You can, and will prosper if you know where to look and give yourself the chance.

  • Sarah

    Thank you, WCCO for not publishing the boy’s name! Some other news outlets have, and I applaud that you did not!

  • Anita

    Why look for the boys mother, she gave him up years ago!!! Find a ggod family, who will love & care for him.I also pray his dad could have a change of mind, & realize there’s help out there for the 2 of them. May God be with them both!!

  • tess

    Just watched the 20/20 on homeless kids. Most of the kids the parents abandoned. It was very well done and followed these kids for two years. 2 million kids homeless in US.

  • Ethiopia Nice

    He can stay with my family and share what we have. I have one son and the story put a tear on my eye thinking of my son.

    • Laurie Matson

      It puts a tear in my eye too. It’s so good of you to make such a kind offer. the people commenting on this are cold hearted and cruel. he did the best he was capable of at the time. he is a unemployed Architect. there are no jobs for Architects anymore. I feel compassion for the man and his son.

  • pjjackson

    I can’t believe people these days, it is so hard for many people who have lost their job’s, lost their home’s and just trying to get by, what this man did is unbelievable, I could never do such a thing having raised 3 son’s myself. having said that , please stop and think about this man, he is sick and need’s Help!! I hope when they find him ,he hasn’t harmed himself and they don’t throw him in jail, he need’s medical help .you know it;s a blessing that he didn’t harm the boy and himself, like you hear alot lately. so my heart goe’s out to both the son and the father. I’m praying for both of them. , and that he get’s help ,NOT jail! .It’s so easy to condem other’s but, the one’s who do haven’t been through any heart break and don’t know how to forgive. I’m just sick when I listen to the new’s anymore.. But give the guy a chance it could of ended a lot worse!!!

    • Mark

      I agree, he obviously has issues with mental health. He saw his choice of bringing the boy down with him or letting his son go while he went to die. Jail time is about as sensible for this man as it is as a cancer cure. The fact of the matter is that there are simply not enough jobs to go around and there hasn’t been for a long time. We simply hide that fact in the uncounted “discouraged worker” status in our unemployment measures. The jobs are leaving the US, they are even leaving China. When you hear that Foxconn is thinking of going to automation because $400 a month is too much money to pay a worker you know where the rest of us stand.

      Automation will largely replace human workers, even in the service economy. This is the future, the obsolescence of human labor. Capitalism is not an adequate system to manage such a reality. If we can make all the food and products we need but there are no jobs how does the system function?

  • Lee

    My heart immediately went out to the father and child. No one will know the pain the father himself felt in less they have bared the cross themselves.

  • Commonsense

    This is the reality of our economy these days – more and more people are going off the deep end and in this case it could have turned out differently and he could have taken both there lives. I truly am saddened and hope for the boys sake that nothing has happened to his father and that he can find a loving home to stay in while he heals.

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