Man, woman, 4 children bound and gagged before suspects kidnapped U.P. boy, police say

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CHIPPEWA COUNTY (WJRT) (3/14/2019) - Police found a man and four children bound and gagged with duct tape over their mouths while looking for a kidnapped 5-year-old, which led to an Amber Alert on Wednesday.

Police initially responded to a residence on North Whitefish Point Road north of the remote town of Paradise in the Upper Peninsula around 7:15 p.m. for reports of a domestic dispute with a stabbing.

Chippewa County Undersheriff Greg Postma said 53-year-old George Cunningham and 68-year-old Jon Stygler went to the residence looking for Cunningham's 5-year-old son Zephaniau.

RELATED: Amber Alert canceled after boy missing from Upper Peninsula found safe

George Cunningham is Zephaniau's biological father but he does not have legal custody.

The suspects encountered a woman when they arrived outside the residence, bound and gagged her and then put her inside a vehicle parked outside. They went inside, where they found a man and four children.

Postma said George Cunningham and Stygler sprayed them with a chemical spray, zip tied their hands and duct taped their mouths shut before looking for Zephaniau Cunningham.

One of the family members broke free of their zip tie and stabbed one of the suspects. However, they were still able to escape with Zephaniau and head north toward Whitefish Point in Cunningham's 1986 Ford F-250 pickup truck.

Michigan State Police issued an Amber Alert for Zephaniau and sent an alert to computers and mobile devices across the state during the search.

Postma said officers found Cunningham's truck parked on Blueberry Lane about five miles north from the residence. Residents living at the house where the truck was located told police Cunningham and Stygler were heading east across Lake Superior on the ice toward Canada.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Chippewa County Sheriff's Office began tracking them across the ice. They located all three of them about two miles offshore from Whitefish Point and 15 miles from Canada.

Cunningham and Stygler were taken into custody without incident while Zephaniau was secured and brought back to shore. The Amber Alert for him was canceled around 1 a.m.

Postma said Cunningham, a registered sex offender, cut off a court-ordered GPS tether just after the incident. He and Stygler were taken to the Chippewa County Jail in Sault Ste. Marie.

They were arraigned Thursday on several charges, including kidnapping, assault, home invasion and child endangerment. Both remained in jail with no bond for Cunningham and $1 million bond for Stygler.

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