Missing Mom, Lisa Stebic’s husband denied sole custody of children

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Story Highlights

-Husband denied sole custody
-Blood on tarp claims it is animal
-Friend says Craig was verbally abusive
-Possibly another man?
-Financial problem

See previous posts –
-“Illinois Mom Was Trying to Oust Husband From Home When She Disappeared”
Family not yet casting blame

JOLIET, Ill. — The husband of missing Illinois mom Lisa Stebic was denied sole custody of the couple’s two children Tuesday. Craig Stebic’s lawyer, Dion Davi, filed the legal motion after Lisa disappeared, arguing that his client was afraid that if and when Lisa ever came back, she may take off again, this time, with the children — Alexis, 12, and Zachary, 10. In family court on Tuesday, Davi argued that while Lisa has been missing for three weeks, she has not assisted with any parenting responsibilities.

Lisa’s attorneys have filed on her behalf requesting that petition be denied. Judge Joseph Polito ruled that Craig’s case had no merit and struck his motion from consideration.

Lisa’s attorney, Glenn Kahn, told reporters after the hearing that the judgment has no impact on the kids and that they will remain under Craig’s care, since he still has all of his legal rights.

But Davi countered that, saying it’s “unfortunate” the court ruled this way, because Craig is subject to the loss of certain rights if his wife were to take the kids to another jurisdiction without his permission.

“There’s the other possibility that Lisa is out there and she is a runaway estranged woman and she has legal rights to take the children and do what she wishes with the children,” Davi told reporters. “That is a concern to me.”

But Lisa’s husband’s cousin, Melanie Greenberg, said the idea that Lisa ran away on her own is absurd, and that she would never leave her children. She said the idea that Lisa’s abductor — if she was abducted — would take the kids is also improbable.

Greenberg said she doesn’t think Craig has received the best legal advice from his attorney and she doesn’t understand why he would petition for sole custody of the children while his wife was missing.

Lisa was last seen at about 6 p.m. April 30 at her Red Star Drive home in Plainfield, Ill., and was seeking a divorce from Craig.

Davi said he has the option to refile the motion should a fresh set of allegations surface. But for now, he and Craig will refrain from further legal filings as the investigation continues.

Meanwhile, The Joliet Herald News reported that Craig said the blood recently found in his truck by police is animal blood.

“We do a lot of hunting,” Craig told the Herald News Monday, adding that any blood in his truck is likely from a dead animal. “I know there’s blood all over the back of the truck. For them to find blood in the back of the truck doesn’t surprise me a bit.”

Davi could not confirm that Craig said the blood on the tarp was from a deer. But two different law enforcement sources told FOX News the blood was Lisa’s.

But Davi told FOX News that it’s not yet clear whether the tarp was the cause of a May 14 warrant to search the home, or if such a tarp even existed. Davi said that after two searches of the Stebic home earlier this month, he received from police an itemized list of what was taken from the home, which included the family computer. The tarp was not on the list for either of those two searches

That means it may be something else police found after those two searches that prompted the May 14 warrant.

Davi told FOX News that his client maintains his innocence. Craig has not been named a suspect or a person of interest by police. He gave police the family’s computer but would not submit to a lie-detector test on the advice of his divorce attorney.

Davi said he has never asked his client whether he had a role in his wife’s disappearance.

Craig’s father owns a cabin in Michigan, which has also been searched by police. Davi said Craig did go to the cabin the weekend before Lisa disappeared, but he doesn’t know if Craig was deer hunting.

Davi said his client has become an easy target and there are a number of other leads police need to investigate, aside from Craig.

“It’s possible Craig was set up,” Davi said, adding that investigators and others need to have an open mind and not be led by tunnel vision during the investigation.

Another Man, Possible Money Problems

FOX News confirmed with law enforcement and some of Lisa’s friends that she began seeing a divorced man sometime within the month before her April 30 disappearance. The two had only been on a few dates but they saw each other the weekend before Lisa disappeared. Police have questioned him and they say he has fully cooperated thus far.

Meanwhile, Lisa’s cousin says her family is holding off casting blame on who may be responsible for her disappearance until evidence proves exactly what happened to her.

“The police have not told us they have a suspect,” Mark Greenberg told FOX News on Monday. “The people pointing fingers at this point are the media.

He added: “We just have to hold out hope as long as we possibly can.”

Lisa disappeared while her husband was in the backyard and her two children were out. Lisa was reported missing by her husband the next day. Craig said he believes someone picked her up. Since then, there has been no activity on her cell phone or credit cards. Her car never left the driveway.

“She never went anywhere without her car,” one of Lisa’s coworkers at a nearby school cafeteria told FOX News.

Divorce proceedings began in December. The couple has lived in the same house since then but rarely spoke.

” Lisa was trying to have her husband evicted from their home so the family could “live in peace,” according to a petition for temporary eviction filed by the missing mom. That stated he was being “unnecessarily relentless, cruel, inconsiderate, domineering and verbally abusive.” His behavior was “jeopardizing the mental well-being” of their children, she wrote.

“He would just degrade her, say mean things to her and constantly yell at her and the kids,” Ruby Zegar, Lisa’s friend at the school, told FOX News. “She was literally scared of him.”

But Davi denies any abuse allegations and has said Lisa was never in danger from her husband.

Authorities say that it’s unlikely that Lisa is still alive, but they added that no matter what it takes, they will find her.

“I do expect us to locate the location of Lisa Stebic,” Plainfield Police Commander Mike Altenhoff told FOX News. “‘Because I’ve got a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old child in that house that wants to know where their mother is.

” Meanwhile, The Naperville Sun reported that the Stebics may have been going through financial difficulties. Their mortgages exceeded their home value, and, according to the petition Lisa filed to evict Craig from the family home, she earns less than $10,000 a year as a lunchroom worker while her husband earned more than $80,000 annually at his union job.

The newspaper reported that the couple’s history of taking multiple mortgages on their Plainfield home and later refinancing for larger amounts shows they were looking for cash.

Click here to read The Naperville Sun story

FOX News’ Steve Brown, Marla Cichowski, Jeff Goldblatt and Megyn Kelly contributed to this report.

One Response to “Missing Mom, Lisa Stebic’s husband denied sole custody of children”

  1. cao2 Says:

    It’s hard to know what to think about this; but above all, I can’t imagine what this type of situation would be like for the children involved. I keep praying for the families of Stacy Peterson, Lisa Stebic and Anu Solanki.

    Hopefully they’ll all find out what happened to these young women.

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