UPDATE: Two men charged for abducting child in Chippewa County

PARADISE, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE at 2:51 p.m. Thursday:

George Cunningham and Jon Stygler were both arraigned in the 91st District Court Thursday. George Cunningham was not given the option of bond and Jon Stygler's bond was set at $1 million dollars with a tether.

Cunningham is charged with the following: kidnapping-child enticement, first degree child abuse,armed robbery, first degree home invasion, five counts of unlawful imprisonment, felony assault with a dangerous weapon, and malicious destruction of property over $1,000 but less than $20,000.

Stygler is charged with the following: kidnapping-child enticement, armed robbery, first degree home invasion, five counts of unlawful imprisonment, and felony assault with a dangerous weapon.

They will be back in court for preliminary exams on April 1.
UPDATE at 8:20 a.m. Thursday:

Authorities have released more details about the child abduction that ended with an ice rescue on Lake Superior in the middle of the night.

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office reports that deputies were dispatched to an address on North Whitefish Point Road in Whitefish Township at approximately 7:15 p.m. Wednesday evening for a report of a domestic dispute involving a stabbing.

Upon arrival, deputies learned that the two subjects kidnapped the five-year-old boy from the home with the use of a weapon. The suspects then fled the scene Northbound towards the Whitefish Point lighthouse.

The sheriff’s office has confirmed the two suspects to be 53-year-old George Stephen Cunningham and 68-year-old Jon Scott Stygler.

Prior to taking the child, Stygler and Cunningham had located a woman outside of the residence, bound and gagged her, then placed her in a vehicle parked outside of the residence. They then gained entry to the residence where another man and four children were located.

The two men were armed with knives, a chemical spray, and blunt objects. The victims were sprayed with the chemical and zip tied. Their mouths were also duct taped shut.

Stygler and Cunningham then began to look for a five-year-old boy, who is Cunningham’s biological son. While Stygler and Cunningham searched the house, one of the family members was able to cut themselves loose from the zip ties and stabbed at least one of the suspects.

Having located the five-year-old, the two men ran outside. They left the scene in a camouflage pickup.

Officers who responded to the scene began to look for the pickup, eventually finding it on Blueberry Lane, which is located approximately five miles north of the residence.

While running surveillance on the house and making contact with the occupants, officers learned that Stygler, Cunningham, and the child had left the truck and were on foot, heading east across Lake Superior toward Canada.

Michigan DNR units and deputies used snowmobiles immediately to start tracking the suspects as they fled through the snow and slush. Both suspects and the five-year-old were found approximately two miles east of the Lake Superior shoreline.

Stygler and Cunningham were taken into custody without incident. Five-year-old Zephaniau George Cunningham was safely secured. All three were checked for exposure when they arrived back to the shore.

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that George Stephen Cunningham is a registered sex offender who was on tether at the time of the incident. In an attempt to hide, or escape detections, he cut his tether shortly after the incident.

Stygler and Cunningham were lodged at the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office. Their recommended charges include, but are not limited, to kidnapping, assault, home invasion, and child endangerment.

The investigation remains ongoing and additional charges may be added.

The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan State Police, Border Patrol, ICE Agents, FBI, the Whitefish Township EMS team, and the Chippewa County Central Dispatch.


An abducted five-year-old boy was found safe early Thursday morning on the ice of Whitefish Bay after authorities issued an Amber Alert late Wednesday night.

The Chippewa County Sheriff's Office reported the boy and two suspects were found just after 1:00 a.m. Thursday off Whitefish Point Road.

George Stephen Cunningham and John Stygler are in custody. Their relationship to the once-missing boy is unknown, but the child's middle name is George and his last name is Cunningham.

Authorities said five-year-old Zephaniau George Cunningham was last seen just after 7:00 p.m. Wednesday at a home in Paradise on Whitefish Point Road. Investigators say the suspects left the house, driving north on Whitefish Point Road. That somewhat trapped them, because there is no outlet off the road in the winter.

The suspects abandoned their truck and took the child onto the ice. Officers followed the tracks, which led them to the suspects and the child, who was okay when authorities found him.

Investigators say George Cunningham was out on parole and had cut off his GPS tether. Cunningham was convicted in Ohio in 2015 of gross sexual imposition with a victim under 13.

The two suspects were considered armed and dangerous. It's unknown when they'll make their first court appearance.

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