Community honors 11-year-old who was kidnapped alongside his 3 siblings in Detroit

Community activists give family $3,000 check to buy presents

The community is honoring an 11-year-old boy for keeping his composure when he and his three siblings were kidnapped last month by a woman driving a van in Detroit.

DETROIT – The community is honoring an 11-year-old boy for keeping his composure when he and his three siblings were kidnapped last month by a woman driving a van in Detroit.

Officials said they pulled over Stephanie Marie Binder, 37, of Detroit, around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday (Nov. 30) in the area of Grand River and Evergreen avenues for running a red light.

What happened

When officers approached the passenger side of the van, they saw four children in the back seat: an 11-year-old boy, an 8-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, according to authorities.

“Once the officers stopped, they see that there are children in the back crying,” a prosecutor said. “They ask Ms. Binder, ‘Are these your children?’ and she says yes. They are not her children. The officers, due to the emotions of the children in the back -- they ask if they know this woman, and the children shake their heads. At this point, Ms. Binder is detained.

“Had the officers not pulled them over, who knows where these children would be?”

Police said Binder was driving a stolen van when she kidnapped all four children as they were walking to school. She is not related to the children, officials said.

“There were four children walking to school,” a prosecutor said. “Ms. Binder approached in a stolen van that she admittedly stole and lured the children into her van and drove away with the children, telling them she was taking them to school.

“The youngest child got into the van, at which time the oldest child, who is 11, tried to grab his brother back, but Ms. Binder got out of the car and pushed them toward her van, telling them to get in.”

Boy honored

The parents of the children, Shayla Burleigh and Jestin Williams, are praising their oldest son.

“He was calm for his siblings, because he didn’t know if she had weapons or (was going to) do something to them,” Burleigh said. “He was calm the whole time.”

It’s been nearly a month since the kidnapping, and community activists wanted to support the family on Christmas Eve.

“This is a token of our appreciation before Christmas to give a check for $3,000 to buy gifts,” said Rev. Horace Sheffield III, of New Destiny Christian Fellowship. “Here’s a young man who took a risk and is getting a reward, and hopefully, that leaves an indelible impression on him to not be a bystander.”

“It means a lot that powerful people wanted to come and do something,” Williams said. “I’m thankful (and) hopeful it will keep it from happening to somebody else.”


Binder admitted that she had never met the children before and had no authority to pick them up, prosecutors said.

Binder is charged with four counts of kidnapping -- child enticement, four counts of unlawful imprisonment, one count of unlawfully driving away of an automobile and one count of receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle.

Stephanie Marie Binder (Detroit Police Department)

She was arraigned Dec. 3 in 36th District Court and is being held on $5 million bond. She’s not allowed to have contact with the victims and must wear a GPS tether and remain on house arrest, if released.

A not guilty plea was entered on her behalf.

The prosecutor said Binder has a lengthy criminal history, including multiple retail frauds, multiple failure to appear warrants, a drug conviction, and she was discharged from parole in April after leaving the scene of a deadly crash in which she was at fault.

You can watch the full arraignment below.

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.