VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Publisher experienced sonís kidnapping
The Lookout to focus on lost kids
STEPHAN KRAFT KNOWS HOW it feels to have a child disappear.
In 1985, his four-year old son Jason was kidnapped by Kraft's common-law girlfriend of two years who was no relation to the child. Three years prior to this he came home from work to find a note from the biological mother stating she had ran off with his son to Arizona. He found out later there was another man. With his heart broken he pleaded over a six-month period to the mother to bring his son back. After six months of hell she agreed the child would be better off with him to raise.
He was happily raising his son alone when he met this new woman and she move into his house.
"They were together for about two years," "Then one day Stephan went to pick his girlfriend up from her job. To his surprise there were two men greeting him saying they were police officers and wanted him for questioning. Then they locked Stephan inside the office with her boss witnessing this. His girl friend jumped into the car and went to the day care and disappeared with his child. Stephan found out later the two people that held him against his will, was, her lawyer and private detective she hired.
Stephan said, doesn't that beat all! I think that's a crime all in itself. It's called impersonating a police officer! These two legal official's gave her the chance to run with my child and that's what's called aiding and abetting in a crime.
Stephan went to the Attorney Generalís office where he tried to file charges of kidnapping against his girlfriend, charges against the attorney and private investigator that assisted in the disappearance of his son. He had to convince the court the boy wasn't with his biological mother before authorities would take action, but first he had to find them.
He was turned away and was told he had to prove the child was with the girl friend and not with the biological mother. The reason being this same lawyer and detective lied for her stating to the Attorney General that they knew the whereabouts of the child and that he was with the real mother. Well Stephan new different, so he tried to track his son down on his own.
So began a six-month odyssey that saw Kraft lose everything he owned, a house, expensive car and successful refinishing business.
Later on with the help of private detectives, he tracked the woman down, and police finally stepped in to help. "It was right out of the movies," he said. "They brought in a helicopter to circle the day care while the police went in and I finally got Jason back." Lucky for him he found the child when he did because there was illegal adoption taking place that the mother and the girlfriend had cook up with her bad it lawyers.
Stephan did go to court and fought for the rights over his son against the mother and girlfriend and was awarded custody.
There is more to this story, which he will tell at a later date about what went on in that six-month period.
Since the abduction, the idea of helping parents in his situation has nagged at him, and in 1996 he decided to do something about it.
By day, Kraft worked construction and refinishing contracts, while in his spare time he tried to get the magazine off the ground. He moved to North Vancouver last summer and rented an old house, quitting his job to work on the project full time. "I figured it was time to do this and I knew it would never happen if I continued part time," he said.
Surrounded by mounds of papers, his wall covered in newspaper clippings of missing children, Kraft proudly displays the almost-complete mock-up of The Lookout: The People Finder and Voice of the People Magazine. Kraft intends to distribute the paper in Greater Vancouver, with a focus on the Downtown Eastside, once he gets more advertisers.
The 24-page introductory publication features tips on what to do if your child goes missing and how to prevent kids from running away. One page is left open for street kids to send messages to their parents and give their side of the story. Part of that section is reserved for parents to do the same.
"I know what it can be like to be on the streets and kids shouldn't have to live like that," said Kraft, who left home at 15 to avoid an abusive stepfather and lived on the streets until he was 18. "Lack of communication between kids and their parents is important and maybe the "THE LOOKOUT" can open that door just a little.
THE LOOKOUT won't just cover missing kids, but anyone facing social problems, including seniors, women, drug addicts and street kids plus Most Wanted. Kraft has plans to launch other programs through the magazine. One, The Searchers, would offer help to parents if their children go missing. "Those hours following a disappearance are crucial," Kraft said. "We'd be organized and would be able to step in right away to help people."
Kraft and Lookout volunteers are gathering a list of helpers willing to assist in searches anywhere in Greater Vancouver. The group has a private investigator on standby.
THE LOOKOUT offers a postering service to parents. "We'd print posters and distribute them free of charge," he said. "Anything we could do to help."
Contact Kraft at 929-6786 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: August 21, 2016