STRANGE GH: Identity of Tommy R.F.D. remains a mystery

Aug 22, 2011


Bethke called the Sheriff’s Department from inside the VanderYacht home, from which the infant was taken to the hospital where he was checked over. Employees at the Municipal Hospital named the boy “Tommie R.F.D.” while under their care.

Because Tommie was abandoned, he became a ward of the state.

It was reported Tommie — dressed in only a red and white shirt and laying upon a woman’s skirt fashioned into a small blanket — had been in the closed mailbox only moments before Bethke pulled up to the mailbox. Authorities believed the mother of the child had planned the drop-off in the mailbox, timing it to when he mail carrier would arrive.

“You’ll find lots of things in rural mailboxes,” Bethke said in a Grand Haven Tribune article. “I found three dead snakes once. When I opened the mailbox today, I thought it might be a doll until a foot moved.”

Tommie R.F.D. was placed in a foster home pending a decision on his future. Mr. and Mrs. Bethke initially went to court expressing a desire to adopt the child, but decided it would be best for the baby to be adopted outside of the local publicity to a place “where his unusual discovery may be forgotten.”

More than a dozen inquiries came in from persons wishing to adopt the child, court records indicate. They originated from Ottawa County, Muskegon and Kalamazoo; and even one from a couple in Rockford, Ill.

After Tommie R.F.D. was placed in a foster home, he was adopted out. His whereabouts and identity remain unknown to this day. Likewise, the mother or parents of the child were never found.

If still alive and well, Tommy R.F.D. would be 54 years old today.


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