Families fight for custody of Jovan Belcher’s daughter


When Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and then killed himself in December, it left their infant daughter orphaned. Now that daughter is at the center of a custody battle between the families of Belcher and Perkins.

Belcher’s mother, Cheryl Shepherd, was at the home in Kansas City when her son killed Perkins, and she immediately began caring for baby Zoey, who is now 8 months old. However, Shepherd allowed members of the Perkins family to take Zoey to Perkins’ funeral, and the Perkins family has not allowed Zoey to go back to Shepherd’s home.

As a result, Lindsay Jones of USA Today reports, a custody trial is set to begin on June 11 in Jackson County, Missouri, with more than 80 witnesses testifying. Zoey is currently being cared for by Kasandra’s cousin, Sophie Perkins, but Belcher’s mother wants custody.

Until Zoey becomes an adult, the adults who care for her will have control of the estate she inherited from her father. Belcher left property valued at nearly $800,000, and he had a $1.2 million life insurance policy, plus Zoey is expected to get at least $1 million from the NFL, and funds have been set up for her care by the Chiefs. Financially, Zoey will be well taken care of. Here’s hoping the families can put aside their differences and see to it that she is emotionally well taken care of as well.

56 responses to “Families fight for custody of Jovan Belcher’s daughter

  1. How is that not considered kidnapping? And why didnt she call the police when she wasn’t returned? Or if she did call the police, why was nothing done? Sure sounds like she was kidnapped to me

  2. “Here’s hoping the families can put aside their differences and see to it that she is emotionally well taken care of as well.”

    And that they don’t steal her money.

  3. As tragic as this is, and knowing Belcher is the author of this horrific situation, it seems his mother is better suited to put the child’s interest first. I shudder to hear what “necessities” the cousin will buy over the years with baby Zoey’s money.

  4. I can’t help but wonder how much the fact that the baby is sole heir to Belcher’s estate has to do with this… which is a sad commentary on the state of our society and/or my own cynicism.

  5. Sadly, it sounds like more of a fight about who gets to spend Zoey’s money. Anyone want to bet on how much money is left by the time Zoey becomes an adult?

  6. This child is starting life with a great burden, but also with the promise that her life’s needs will be addressed.

    We presume the Court will require sufficient bonds and regular audited reports. The initial lump sum can grow to two or three times its original amount if properly tended, however history is littered with tales of malfeasance in this regard.

  7. Where’s King Soloman when you need him.

    Poor kid. Greedy adults. Throw in lawyers and this is what you get.

    Can’t they just do what’s best for the baby?

  8. Maybe I am cynical, but I am guessing that controlling the millions is more enticing than caring for the kid. Hope the money is in trust for her and that there is a trustee that can say “No,” so she has something left when she is an adult.

  9. Hopefully these families are fighting for the right “W”. Her “Well Being” and NOT her “Wealth”. She needs to be surrounded by the right people.

  10. Very sad.

    This is about families wanting the $$$ attached to this little girl.

    And this picture makes me sick. A guy holding up a sign celebrating the life of a murderer.


  11. funny how things work I started reading the article thinking wow at least she has 2 families wanting to love and care for her and by the end im left wondering is it the baby they want or control of the babies money? wish my head had not gone there but the article took me there regardless this sounds like something that will wind up settled in court and lawyers will wind up carving into this little girls financial future hopefully there is some sort of protection making the families pay for court costs and not allowed to spend the girls money on anything but the girl

  12. My heart goes out to the family on so many levels. What do you do?!!?? The situation has to revolve around money. Because of who her father was is the obvious reason $$$ is involved. But the everyday care for this child revolves around money too. Or at least the lure of this “lump sum pro football money” hanging out there for this precious innocent little girl. If I were the Judge in this case I would try this. Putting all that “lump sum pro football money “aside locked away until she turns eighteen. All of it. Every last dime. Then figure out who has the best interest at heart for this young innocent soul. Raising this little girl will be very hard. Whomever is taking care of this little girl will be all she knows. I hope and pray for that little girl the person/environment that becomes “all she knows”. Comes from a place of love, compassion, knowledge and God. Not a place where the $$$ becomes the priority. God Bless Zoey Belcher!!!!

  13. One of the best threads I have read on PFT from a reporting standpoint. Guns tore this family apart but money is keeping the wounds open. Sad for the child and the the family members that really care for her.

  14. Does an insurance policy pay out in events of suicide? I assumed that would be a deal killer, accidental pun accepted.

  15. Nothing like money bringing families together! Is the Perkins family related to Tyran Smith’s family?

  16. People are trying ot come up, and you wonder how many of them would have stepped up if all of this happened to he and his girlfriend if he worked at a warehouse and had no money coming to him.

    Family greed. But what is worse is the family that wasn’t there at all before this situatiopn hit the media about how much baby Zoey was to get. Family greed is why I am for gay marriage. No because I want to or like seeing it, because I don’t, but for assets purposes I have personally seen large sums of money go to the estranged family who hadn’t been around in decades instead of the person they’ve been with for 10 years plus.

    In this case, I believe that Belcher’s mom has the kid’s best interest at heart. Hopefully the judge sees it that way as well.

  17. i will volunteer to take care of her. i wont use a dollar of her inheritance. kids like this need loved and cared for by a lot of people. they dont need to hear the bickering and fighting their entire life.

  18. @dioalice

    Yeah insurance policy DONT Pay when you kill your self, or die while commiting a Crime… Murding your baby Momma…. Then eating a bullet. (Jovan… Nothing NICE to say about you PUNK!!!)

    So that 1.2 Million is off the table…

    Lets hope the people that want to take care of Zoey is for her sake not the $$$$

  19. As someone that works for a life insurance company I can tell you that we do pay a policy even if the death is by suicide, it just has to be over two years since the policy was issued. Also we do pay out when someone dies while committing a crime as long as they weren’t the beneficiary of the person that they murdered.

  20. seems like belchers mom mrs.sheppard was always there to care for her grand daughter.I wonder how often the other grand mother did this before money came in the picture.

  21. Put all of the money and asset in a trust for the kid and don’t let any adult have access to one penny, not even for the child’s expenses. Whoever still wants to care for the kid should be the one that gets her.

  22. The money should be set aside for the child education and to grow interest.

    Their should be a a monthly stipend for the child care whatever is deemed reasonable by courts.

    That way these people who are caring for the girl don’t blow he money before she is 2yrs old.

    And all she is left with is a horrible story.

    If they really care for the child well being…getting their hands on ALL the money RIGHT NOW! Shound not be the priority.

    Making sure she is fed ,changed,and loved should b
    May God protect her and all the other children who don’t have windfalls of money coming their way.

  23. How is this not considered kidnapping? And why does a cousin have the child? Like someone else said, where is the other grandmother? Cousin is probably about the money. Belcher’s mother is more likely to be about Zoey’s wellbeing.

  24. Using a baby as a cash cow is probably a sin of some sort, but I’m just guessing.

  25. Old insurance myth, but just an FYI that most insurance policies will still pay even if it’s suicide – however most life insurance carriers have a 2 year “suicide clause” that protects
    them, but after the 2 years, yes they will pay….

  26. Belcher’s mom should get custody because she has been caring for the child since birth!!!!!!!!

  27. I think that when one parent murders another parent, the family of the murdered parent should get priority for custody of the kid. Maybe this will dissuade people from murdering their girlfriends if they know that the girlfriend’s parents will then get the kids. Moreover, how can Belcher’s mom claim that she would do a better job raising the kid based on her track record raising a son who murdered his girlfriend?

  28. eaglesw00t says:
    May 31, 2013 10:07 AM
    How is that not considered kidnapping? And why didnt she call the police when she wasn’t returned? Or if she did call the police, why was nothing done? Sure sounds like she was kidnapped to me

    Hmm, the article says “Belcher’s mother wants custody” but was she ever actually granted custody or temporary custody of Zoey? If not, then maybe that’s why it wasn’t considered kidnapping because technically she never had the legal right to have her anyway and didn’t have any more of a right than Kasandra’s family. If she did have legal custody then I too wonder why there was no police action.

    Perhaps others have read more background info about her family than I have but I’m not sure I understand the rush to paint Kasandra’s family as bad people who are just after money. Their loved one was murdered, why is it so hard to believe they would want to care for her daughter? Why is Ms. Shepherd’s desire to raise her acceptable but theirs isn’t?

    I really hope for the best for the little girl!

  29. I sell insurance, and I can tell you that life insurance policies can be payable following a suicide depending on how long that policy has been active. Not all suicide clauses are for the lifetime of the policy, many are only a two year clause, so if he had the policy for two or more years then it very well could pay out.

    Also, personally speaking, I can understand why the mother’s family would want the child in their custody versus the father’s family even though it isn’t the family’s fault that he committed such an atrocious crime.

  30. Not a dime of this child’s inheritance will remain when she’s eighteen, regardless of which of these parasites gains custody.

    The day after custody is awarded and the trust is available, Shaunique gon’ be drivin’ herself a new caddy.


  31. Was the grandmother just in town visiting during this incident, or was she actually living with them (or nearby) to act as sort of a nanny? Belcher was obviously busy as a pro athlete, and it sounds like alot of the issues he had with his girlfriend was her excessive partying/not being around, so I have to believe someone was caring for the child during those times.

    If grandma was caring for the baby often before all of this, then it’s pretty clear to me who her parents trusted. And grandma was probably doing it out of the goodness of her heart. Again, if she was already caring for the baby, I don’t think she has any ulterior motive. Heck, she even let the other family take her so she could be present for her mother’s funeral not thinking about the possibility that they wouldn’t return. I can’t say the same for the other family.


  32. Since I have no first-hand knowledge of the actual people involved, this is only from an outside perspective, but from that outside perspective, unless there is something I don’t know that plays into the situation, the last person I would want caring for the child is the murder’s mother or murder’s family. I would think that if there is a suitable person in the victim’s family to care for the child, then that would be the best place for the baby. Why would you subject the victim’s family to having to have constant contact with the murderer’s family in order to see their grandbaby, niece, etc?? Seems very cruel to me that they would have to have that constant reminder of what someone did to their daughter, cousin, niece, etc… That family should have first dibs on raising the baby…

  33. If I were the family of Jovan, I’d petition the court for a paternity test before anything. The two adults were not married; therefore there’s not even a presumption of paternity. And based on what I’ve read about Jovan’s beliefs about the mother’s behavior, perhaps it’s possible that it’s not his child anyway. If not, she won’t be entitled to the estate; his siblings and/or parents would be in line. I’m sure if that turned out to be the case, those idiots that “stole” the baby from Jovan’s mother would turn her over in a heartbeat.

  34. As for the people that recently took the child……

    I wonder how much time they spent with the child BEFORE their was a financial benefit involved ??????????

  35. Hopefully the court will appoint a Guardian Ad Lidem for the baby, as well as a conservator for the estate. This way there is an accountability of where her money is being spent. My ex-husband passed away last year, and his sister has been wreaking havok with me for the past few months. At first she was nice, then she started trying to take over as my kids mother. Now, she is mad at me because I wouldn’t give her guardianship, and then she filed a false application for state aid for my boys. This is just making it hard on my kids. I really hope the families will realize how tough Zoey will have it without having her parents around and put her best interests at heart instead of being selfish. My boys are a lot older and it is hard enough on them.

  36. I do not think that the parents of the person who murdered her mother should get custody of this little girl. Belcher murdered the girls mother and then committed suicide. This does not speak too well about the emotional stability of the family or the support they gave him. It seems that the Belcher family has already failed with one child, why give them the chance to do so with another. Let the mother’s family raise the child, at least they did not raise a suicidal murderer. I realize that there is noway to keep money out of this, but the court should take the life insurance money and the windfall payment from the NFL and put it in trust for the little girl. There are other funds being made available by the team to take care of the little girls needs and taking away access to the bulk of the money should bring out the true motives of these families. See if either of them raises a stink about putting the money in trust and that could reveal a lot about motives.

  37. maybe different States different rules on Life ins… but in California it states if you die will commiting a crime, or kill yourself. You get nothing.

    Here is my policy from work:

    Exclusions & Limitations
    1. Intentionally self-inflicted injury;
    2. suicide or attempted suicide, whether sane or insane;
    3. war or act, whether declared or not;
    4. injury sustained while on full-time active duty as a member of the armed forces;
    5. injury sustained while taking drugs;
    6. injury sustained while committing or attempting to commit a felony;
    7. injury sustained while intoxicated; or
    8. injury sustained while driving intoxicated.

    So you ppl that work for INS companies… is that BS what they posted? Or Different States / INS Companies polices?

  38. kmack, armed forces is an exclusion??? So in Cali, if you die in service to your country, you get jack in return?

    Good lord that’s despicable.

  39. Kmack831 – Every carrier/policy is different. I’m a licensed agent in California, and I can tell you that I sell life policies with lifetime suicide clauses and others with only a two year suicide clause, so you might be correct for your own life ins policy, but not for all policies.

  40. Possibly, who was most in the baby’s short life before the tragedy says who was willing to be invested in the beginning, and, therefore, wanting to be known to the child over the long haul.

  41. It amazes me how the majority of the comments are so judgmental and one-sided! Sure everyone is entitled to their opinion but ….there’s a lot to be said here. 1. There is a GAL appointed to the case and a Conservator regarding the potential estate of the child. 2. Missouri law looks at who’s the best person to care for the child, NOT blood line, therefore I would assume the one’s petitioning for the child are in the best position to be granted guardianhip of the child. 3. In the real world, given the parties were not married, the child would go to the mother’s side of the family without question and it should be the same here unless they are found to be unfit! 4. The child was not kidnapped by the Perkins family, nor did Mr. Belcher’s mother reside with the deceased, she was there visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday and the game. Check your facts! With that being said, instead of being judgmental about facts in which most are unaware of, how about we just pray for these families for a significant loss was had on both sides and no one knows or can feel the loss more than these families. Furthermore, let’s pray that the Courts will be able to make an unbiased, clear minded, neutral decision based upon the facts and evidence presented at trial and in the best interest of this baby.

  42. Well, I think it’s in poor taste that photos of this child have appeared on Facebook by members of the Perkins family as if to “prove” they are better suited to care for her and to show that Zoey is “happy.” I believe they have also shared photos with a third party who has a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of Jovan and Kasandra. After the tragedy, members of the Perkins family posted negative comments about Jovan. Comments that baby Zoey will grow up and see. The Belcher family on the other hand have not provided interviews hinting at the fact that “they” will take care of Zoey nor posted photos of Zoey. They have been respectful of the process, Jovan, Kasandra and Zoey. They have never voiced any negative comments towards the Perkins family. It is Jovan’s mother who was in the household trying to provide assistance to this couple that was in crisis. It was Jovan’s mother watching Zoey while both parents attended separate events. It was Jovan’s mother in the household helping to feed, clean and take care of Zoey. Where was the Perkins family while this couple was in crisis? And now they have kidnapped the child out of revenge? It’s not healthy for Zoey. In the end, it’s about who will provide a healthy and positive environment for her void of any negativity, especially about her father. It’s bad enough she’s going to grow up and feel the hostility about her father from the Perkins family. This child needs peace not war.

  43. The Belcher family has been silent? What about the lies told saying that they fought over money, Kasi left him alone with Zoey while she partied, it wasn’t his baby, she was after money, her family wasn’t involved, and that the Perkins family KIDNAPPED the baby??

    The TRUTH is Kasi’s family loved her dearly, WAS involved but did have to visit around work schedules and miles away (yes, they all work)- but WAS there for the birth of Zoey, was there for baby showers, was there for Kasi while she was re-cooping from having Zoey- they even drove there to clean Joavn/Kasi’s house afterwards. Why would they need to do that if his mother was supposedly there doing it?? There was a story about Jovan missing a practice because of Kasi,, he missed that practice because he was too drunk that MORNING to go to work. Kasi was used as his excuse as usual, even tho she was at home with the baby all night.

    Even the news people have the resources to see alot of these lies. If Zoey was kidnapped then why was she taken to NY for her father’s funeral AFTER her mother’s two in Texas? Why didn’t Cheryl keep her then, rather than trying to get her back AFTER speaking to her attorneys? Cheryl had seen Zoey MULTIPLE times prior to that court filing AND continues to see her frequently. She was given the baby ONLY because she was there at the moment. What else were the police supposed to do? Send her to a stranger’s home?? But in the same sense, they don’t decide who actually gets custody- that is for the courts.

    Why do people automatically think this is about money? That money will be protected by a GAL as requested by the Perkins family. It will be there for Zoey only. You see that there are alot of witnesses on the list- the records show why and the media has the opportunity to check that. Perhaps this is about not letting the cycle of abuse and violence continue. Perhaps the Perkins family has no intention of persecuting the Belcher family BUT in the same token, stand strong on ensuring that Zoey be raised in a home that does not condone family violence and continue this cycle. You can’t stop a long running cycle of domestic violence when you refuse to see it and call everything an accident. You don’t accidentally shoot someone 9 times.

    This is not even the first murder suicide in that family, not even the second. It’s not the first case of domestic violence. That number is more like in the 30’s. Perhaps had the Perkins family known all of this beforehand, they’d have dragged Kasi back to Texas. BUT Cheryl Shepherd knew it.

  44. In response to truth4kmp the Belcher family never made any such comments about Kasi to the media or otherwise. Those comments are based on public comments in blogs, etc. The only statement from the Belcher family came from Cheryl which she provided to the police based on the events of that evening and prior. They haven’t granted any interviews to the media nor made any comments on Facebook, etc.

    Again, members of the Perkins family (Kasi’s mother’s side) posted negative comments about Jovan on their respective Facebook pages. Comments which Zoey will grow up and see. I’m sure they probably have deleted them with the court case coming up, but I have names. They have also posted photos of Zoey.

    Prayerfully Zoey will grow up in a positive environment not overshadowed by any hostility (or negative comments by family) towards her father. She needs to be allowed at the appropriate time to form her own opinion towards her father and what happened. Prayerfully she will be afforded that opportunity.

  45. If the Perkins family states that Kasi was murdered by Jovan, the Belcher family considers that a negative comment. Anything short of “it was an accident” offends them.
    Hearing what has come out in the news from the trial it seems to me they COULD have been very nasty and held themselves quite well thru all of this.
    There was AND IS a definite PATTERN of domestic violence in that family. It is most insulting that even after this, they have not recognized it, confirming that it will continue, and showing no remorse whatsoever to what had happened to the Perkins family. I saw posts also, some that were scolding the Perkins family ON her page days after she was murdered.. It was disgusting.
    If it were my child who had done something like this..I would hope I could have a bit more respect for the family that my child put in so much pain. I would apologize, not because I purposely raised a murderer but because the pain is there regardless. I certainly wouldn’t FAULT that family for having their feelings of grief, and I wouldn’t post on the victim’s page pictures of them sitting in heaven together just days after the murder. I wouldn’t publicly say that my family was closer to the victim than her own family! I wouldn’t ignore the victim’s parents and overstep there place and just do what I wanted with the victims things and child without speaking to them. Not only were they robbed of their daughter, they found out by the news, and decisions had been made about their daughter, her child, and her things before ever even speaking to them. Repeatedly victimized and it’s disgraceful.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.