Man who found abducted girl still hasn't received his reward

Nelson Mandela Myers sits near the steps in his Upper Darby home on Thursday, April 4, 2013. Myers found the little girl who had been abducted from her school in January, he was hailed a hero and was promised a $10,000 reward. Three months later, he still hasn't seen the money and the Mayor's Office and the FOP, each of which promised him $5,000, have not returned his or his wife's calls. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Last Friday's cover story, on Nelson Mandela Myers, the Good Samaritan who found an abducted child in January but had yet to receive the $10,000 reward money he was promised from the city, generated a lot of response.

Comments ranged from: "Come on, just give the man the reward" to "This is a travesty! All those high paid staff in the Mayors (sic) office and they can't make this happen?"

I promised readers I would follow up on Myers' story and today, I did. I expected to be telling you good news, but like Myers has found out the hard way, we don't always get what we expect.

Myers, a trash man who works in Norristown and lives in Upper Darby with his wife and two foster kids, has yet to receive his reward. Remember, he and his wife claim their calls and emails to the Mayor's Office about the reward went unanswered for months.

It was only after I started asking questions last week and the Daily News put Myers' story on the cover that Mayor Nutter said: "The reward has been approved, it is going through the normal city process to disperse funds, and my expectation is that he should receive his check next week."

Not only have the Myers still not received their check, Janie Myers feels her husband is being made to jump through hoops.

Janie told me that last Friday she received a call from a receptionist who works for Everett Gillison, Nutter's chief of staff and the deputy mayor for public safety. The woman asked for an address to send the check to and she asked who the check should be made out to. Janie said she was taken aback by the last question.

"You should make it out to Nelson Myers, of course," she recalled saying.

The receptionist promised that she would send out the check Friday or Monday and that the Myers would have it by this week. However, on Monday Janie said she received a call from the same aide who told her that Nelson had to come to City Hall to meet with Gillison. She asked what the meeting was about and the aide told her it was about the reward. She asked the receptionist if the reward check had already been sent out as promised and was told no.

"I asked 'Will he be picking up the check when he meets with him?'" Janie said. "She said she didn't know."

So, the Myers scheduled an appointment with Gillison Tuesday and gathered up their two small children, ages 3 and 5, for the trip. The family cannot afford a car, so they had to make a stop at a bank first to get cash for a train ride from Upper Darby to Center City. 

Janie said she was getting cash out of an ATM machine and Nelson was holding their 3-year-old son's hand when the little boy got his pinkie finger caught in a door and a chunk of it was torn off, Janie said.

"My son starts screaming, blood starts shooting everywhere and a piece of his finger is on the floor," she said.

Janie said Nelson took of his shirt, wrapped it around his son's hand to stop the bleeding and grabbed the chunk of finger in hopes that it could be reattached. The family hailed a cab and went to the hospital.

"My poor son, he was completely devastated," Janie said. "Kids can be so cruel. I don't want him to get made fun of."

The part of the finger that had been sliced off could not be reattached, she said, and she will have to take her son to a hand specialist.

Meanwhile, she called Gillison's office to tell them what happened and why they missed their appointment.

"I asked if there was a need for us to come down, I asked if the check had been sent out yet and she said no," Janie said.

So, the family has rescheduled another appointment for 4 p.m. tomorrow, but they still don't know why their presence is required or if they will get the check.

"We shouldn't have had to go down there and now, his finger is cut and they're still asking us to come down there," Janie said.

On a whim, Janie said her husband showed up, unscheduled, at Gillison's office yesterday after work, hoping to pick up his reward or speak with someone about it. Instead, she said, he was left waiting for 30 minutes before he gave up and went home.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, who hailed Myers as a "hero," said he can't believe the city is making the Myers pick up the check in person.

"You know, if they want them down there, send a car to pick them up to drive them down there," Chitwood said.

Janie Myers just wants someone to tell her why they have to go to City Hall.

"My thing is, if they had sent it out Friday or Monday we would have gotten it by now," she said. "It's almost a week after they said they'd make out the check and we still have nothing."

In an email, Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, acknowledged that the Myers were first told on Friday their check would be mailed, but said a staffer called them back later that same day and left a message, requesting the Myers set up a meeting with Gillison instead. He said that message was not returned by Janie Myers until Monday.

He said Gillison was not able to see Nelson Myers when he stopped by his office Wednesday because he was at the viewing for Fire Capt. Michael Goodwin.

"As the Mayor noted last week, Mr. Myers will receive a reward," McDonald wrote. "Mr. Gillison wants to meet with Mr. Myers for reasons of courtesy and procedure.

"It's most unfortunate that their child has been injured and Mr. Gillison looks forward to the meeting with Mr. Myers," McDonald wrote.