HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota father accused of abandoning his 11-year-old son and fleeing to California blames his financial instability for leaving the boy behind.
Steven Alexander Cross said he was "worked up and upset" over his mounting bills, unemployment and house foreclosure when he decided to leave his son, Sebastian, with neighbors last July.
The 60-year-old father said he hopes to be reunited with the boy. A Dakota County District Court judge recently ruled that Cross would have to undergo a psychological evaluation before a reunification could be considered.
In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/vnI42f ) Wednesday, Cross said he left his son a note that he was leaving because he was too emotional to tell him in person.
"Through it all, I tried to keep everything as normal as I could for Sebastian," Cross said." ''I wanted it to be as close to a normal day for him. I didn't want to make it a big deal."
Cross also left a note for a neighboring family, asking them to care for his son or find a proper foster home. He told them they could sell his remaining belongings and keep the money, the note said.
"I never thought I'd broken the law," Cross said.
He packed his van and drove west for four days. When he reached Carmel, Calif., Cross said he called a former girlfriend in Minnesota and asked her to check on Sebastian and found out he was doing OK. Then Cross began searching for relatives, but learned none were alive.
Cross landed a job at a deli and lived in his van.
"I'd sit down by the beach, and I loved it," he said.
Once Dakota County social services workers learned about Sebastian, authorities began to investigate. Cross was arrested in August and said he was "blown away" that his story had gotten widespread attention.
Cross said he fled to California to re-establish himself, find a new job, a new home and eventually bring Sebastian with him, Cross said. Instead, Cross was extradited to Minnesota where he faces a charge of child neglect.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.