Custody Battle Over Baby Orphaned By Jovan Belcher's Murder-Suicide

When Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, before killing himself last December, the saddest consequence was that little Zoey Michelle Belcher would be left without parents. Relatives of both Belcher and Perkins have staked custody claims, and they can't agree on who deserves to be Zoey's guardian and conservator of her estate, which could be worth more than $1 million.

Per the Kansas City Star, a hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, nine months to the day after Zoey's birth. On one side will be Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepard of West Babylon, N.Y. On the other side will be Perkins's maternal cousin, Sophie, of Pflugerville, Texas, and Sophie's parents and sister.

Shepard's lawyer maintains that Shepard was awarded temporary custody, but that after Shepard allowed the Perkins family to bring the baby to Texas for Kasandra's funeral, they ceased communicating with her. Both families are expected to call at least 10 witnesses during tomorrow's hearing. A psychologist and a police official are among those on the list.


The Star says the Hunt family, which owns the Chiefs, established a trust fund in Zoey's name. The NFL's collective bargaining agreement also calls for Zoey's estate, via her guardian, to receive a total of more than $1 million until she reaches adulthood.

[Kansas City Star]