The maternal and paternal grandparents of Zoey Belcher are in midst of a custody battle following the murder-suicide carried out by the father, Jovan Belcher.


The fight pits Belcher’s mom, Cheryl Shepherd of Babylon, L.I., against Perkins’ parents, who live in Texas . Shepherd, who had temporary custody of Zoey after the tragedy, allowed Perkins’ mother and father to take the girl to Texas for her mother’s funeral.

Shepherd hasn’t seen or heard from her in-laws since.

“Cheryl agreed to temporarily allow the maternal relatives (to) take Zoey to Texas for her mother’s funeral,” Shepherd’s lawyer, Gretchen Gold, told the Missouri probate commissioner in an email. “The maternal relatives have now ceased communicating with Cheryl Shepherd and have refused to return her calls or return the child to her care.”

The battle is for more than custody of Zoey — her estate is already said to be worth more than $1 million.

A probate commissioner has scheduled a Jan. 11 hearing in Independence, MO, to hear Shepherd’s petition seeking custody of Zoey, and a second petition seeking appointment as administrator of her son’s estate.

Meanwhile, Zoey’s maternal grandparents, Rebecca Anne Gonzalez and Darryl Perkins, and other Texas relatives, have filed a lawsuit seeking temporary custody of the girl.

They want the court to appoint a guardian for Zoey and look “into the circumstances and condition of the child and of the home of any person requesting” to care for the child, according to court papers obtained by the Associated Press.
A Forth Worth judge is scheduled for a hearing on that case Jan. 22.

Zoey will receive payments of $108,000 annually over the next four years, $48,000 in the fifth year, and $52,000 every year after that until Zoey turns 18. If Zoey goes on to college, she will continue getting the $52,000 until she turns 23. Belcher’s beneficiary also gets $600,000 in life insurance, $100,000 from a retirement account, and $200,000 for each season he played.

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