In February 2001, Steven Kraft, Jr. Took His Dogs Outside And Disappeared

Over two decades ago, a 12-year-old boy went missing from outside his home in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The two dogs he was playing with have since been found but he remains missing.

Steven Earl Kraft, Jr., pictured here, was last seen near his residence in Benton Township, Michigan, on February 15, 2001.

Over two decades ago, 12-year-old Steven Earl Kraft, Jr. went missing from outside his home in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The two dogs he was playing with have since been found but he remains missing.

Photo by: FBI

FBI

On Feb. 15, 2001, 12-year-old Steven Kraft, Jr. went outside with his two dogs and has not been seen again. He was last known to be a block away from his home playing with his family’s two dogs on Holly Drive, the street he lived on, in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The Charley Project shared that he disappeared between seven and eight p.m. that evening.

Steven was just going to play outside, reported NBC News. His parents didn’t know who he was going to play with, but that wasn’t unusual since a lot of kids played outside together in the neighborhood. He lived on a dead-end street that didn’t get a lot of thru traffic, and it was considered a safe area. Steven told his mother that he would be home for dinner.

When Steven disappeared, his mother was home making dinner, and she reported him missing in the early morning hours of Feb. 16 when he didn’t come to eat as he promised. It was extremely cold with temperatures dropping below freezing that night, and temperatures remained very cold throughout the following few days. At the time of his disappearance, Steven didn’t have on a hat or gloves, so he wouldn’t have been able to survive long if he remained outdoors with no help or shelter.

Benton Township Chief of Police Brian Smit told Dateline, “Our protocol was typical: We went out and took the report and, since it was someone that young of an age, we gathered information. Who last saw him? Sometimes kids do run away, but he hadn’t run away before.”

Steven’s footprints led past an iced-over pond in his neighborhood and went to Harbor Haven Ministries which was only one block south of Holly Drive. According to The Charley Project, the oldest Kraft family dog returned home three days later, and their other dog was found a mile and a half from the home.

Although both dogs were recovered, they could find no hard evidence in Steven’s disappearance.

Shortly before he disappeared, Steven finished a five-day suspension from Hull Elementary School. He had been suspended for a fight in which he defended himself against another student. Both children were suspended for the incident. However, Steven was a sixth grader who didn’t have a history of getting in trouble at school and was a good student.

There was a false sighting reported of Steven at the Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois, in February 2004, but it turned out to be someone else.

The house Steven lived in at the time of his disappearance was torn down nearly 20 years ago, and his parents have since passed away. However, Steven’s sister has continued to be proactive about the case and remains hopeful about his return. She continues to remember him by doing things like making his favorite cake on his birthday every year, reported the episode of Inside The FBI Podcast that was dedicated to the child’s disappearance.

Special Agent Trisha Kovac from the FBI's Detroit Field Office revealed on that podcast, “This is something we will keep working on until we find out what has happened to Steven.

Steven remains missing, and the case is still open. If you know anything about Steve Kraft, Jr.’s disappearance, the FBI requests that you contact a Crimes Against Children Investigator at your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate. You may also contact the Benton Township Police Department (Michigan) at 1-269-926-8221 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-STOP (7867). To leave an anonymous tip online, you can also visit tips.fbi.gov.

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