Police arrest 2 men in kidnapping

George Stephen Cunningham

MARQUETTE — A 5-year-old boy was found safe around 1:10 this morning after two armed male suspects allegedly kidnapped him from a residence in Whitefish Township Wednesday evening, according to the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office. The two men, one of whom was the child’s relative, were arrested and jailed on numerous charges relating to the incident.

Deputies from the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office were initially dispatched to the residence along North Whitefish Point Road around 7:15 p.m. for a report of a domestic dispute involving a stabbing.

When deputies arrived, they learned the two armed suspects, George Stephen Cunningham, 53, a relative of the child, and Jon Stygler, 68, had abducted the boy from the residence after they gagged and bound several other people at the residence. Cunningham and Stygler were armed with knives, chemical spray and blunt objects, police said.

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

The two suspects then gained entry to the residence, where an adult man and four children were present. The men sprayed the victims with the chemical spray, bound them with zip ties and duct taped their mouths shut before beginning to look for the 5-year-old boy.

John Stygler

While the suspects searched for the child, one of the family members was able to cut themselves loose from the zip ties and “stabbed at least one of the suspects,” police said.

Once the two men located the 5-year-old, they fled the scene in a camouflage pick-up truck. Officers responding to the scene began to look for the suspect vehicle and eventually found it parked in a driveway along Blueberry Lane, about 5 miles north of the residence the boy was taken from.

While running surveillance on the house and making contact with occupants, police learned the two suspects and the child had left the truck and were 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.” Around two miles east of Lake Superior’s shoreline, officers found both suspects and the kidnapped child.

Police then took the suspects into custody “without incident” and the child was “safely secured.” All parties were checked for exposure when they returned to the mainland.

Cunningham and Stygler were both lodged at the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office on “a host of charges including, but not limited to, kidnapping, assault, home invasion and children endangerment,” according to officials. Police said the investigation is on-going and additional charges may be issued.

Cunningham was also identified as a registered sex offender who was currently on 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Whitefish Township EMS team, and Chippewa County Central Dispatch assisted the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office.