Looters of a burned Wisconsin home stole an autographed Michael Jordan jersey that the NBA great gave to an ailing 6-year-old girl in the 1990s.
The girl had suffered from a life-threatening disease, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office said, and Jordan signed one of his red No. 45 Chicago Bulls jerseys for her. Jordan now owns the Charlotte Hornets.
Sheriff’s investigators have one person in custody and believe the jersey has already been sold.
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The Oct. 11 house fire in Rock Creek Township displaced the family, according to the sheriff’s office. The home belongs to the girl’s grandfather, the (Minneapolis) StarTribune reported.
Suzanne Valleau-Schiel told the StarTribune that her daughter, Kelsey Schiel, got the jersey autographed by Jordan at his Chicago restaurant in 1995. The Starlight Children’s Foundation arranged the meeting, she said.
Valleau-Schiel said her daughter was going through “a really dark time … and meeting Michael Jordan made her smile.”
Kelsey Schiel, now 28 and living in the Chicago area, told the newspaper that Jordan even let her rub his head. He told her that teammate Scotty Pippen was the only other person he allowed to do that.
“It’s devastating to know that someone stole such an important item,” Kelsey Schiel told the StarTribune. “I really hope that whoever has it realizes its importance and turns it in. We won’t ask questions; it’s just really special to me.”
In the early morning hours on Nov. 2, a family member arrived at the home and found two unknown males with a vehicle behind the residence. Asked what they were doing, they said they were “looting the house,” the sheriff’s office said on its Facebook page.
According to Valleau-Schiel, when the female family member asked the looters what they were doing, they replied, “The same thing you are. We’re looting,” the StarTribune reported.
When the woman said, “No, we’re family,” the intruders took off with what the sheriff’s office said was a garbage can full of items.
Anyone who recently bought the jersey or who knows of its whereabouts is asked to contact the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office at 715-232-1348 or anonymously at dunncocrimestoppers.com.