Metro-East News

Family searches for child’s prosthetic leg stolen in Belleville car break-in

Belleville boy’s prosthetic leg stolen

A prosthetic leg was inside a black backpack ripped off from Brie Rainey’s unlocked car parked off Belle Valley Drive in Southern Illinois. The device is for her son, Josiah.
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A prosthetic leg was inside a black backpack ripped off from Brie Rainey’s unlocked car parked off Belle Valley Drive in Southern Illinois. The device is for her son, Josiah.

A metro-east family spent the weekend searching roadsides and trash bins in an effort to find a 3-year-old Belleville boy’s prosthetic leg stolen during a car break-in.

The prosthetic was inside a black backpack that was ripped off either late Thursday or early Friday from Brie Rainey’s unlocked car parked off Belle Valley Drive in Belleville. The prosthetic is for her son, Josiah.

Rainey and her family believe the thief may have dumped the backpack after seeing what was in it.

Karen Frey Stephens, Rainey’s mother, said the family got a bit of good news Saturday when someone found Rainey’s driver’s license and credit cards at the intersection of Green Mount Road and Lebanon Avenue.

But as of Monday, neither the backpack nor prosthetic was found.

Rainey’s debit card was used at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee MetroLink station in East St. Louis, Stephens said.

Stephens said she hopes the thief will leave the prosthetic in a place where it could be recovered and returned.

“We just want to get the leg back,” she said.

Belleville police Capt. Mark Heffernan said that the investigation remains active and the department has received tips from the public. He said anyone with information can call the department at 618-234-1212.

The metal leg can be adjusted as Josiah grows. If this prosthetic isn’t found, it could take up to four months to get a replacement and the delay would be a setback in Josiah’s development, Stephens said.

Josiah.jpg
Brie Rainey with her 3-year-old son Josiah, whose left leg prosthetic was stolen from his mother’s car. Provided

The prosthetic has a yellow plastic bucket used to attach the leg to Josiah’s hip and it also has a red shoe. It’s valued at $10,000.

Josiah needs the prosthetic because he was born with “VACTERL, a rare disorder that affects multiple body systems. VACTERL is an acronym for vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies and limb abnormalities,” according to the GoFundMe page established for Josiah.

The fundraiser states the money collected would be used to help pay any costs for repairing the prosthetic if it is found or for replacing it. Also, the money would be used to help buy Josiah a new wheelchair. The GoFundMe had reached its $3,000 goal by Monday afternoon, raising almost $4,000.

“Our family continues to be humbled by the generosity of strangers, friends and loved ones,” Stephens wrote on Facebook Sunday morning. “We thank you from the depths of our hearts that you love us enough to care and be his hands and feet.”

Stephens said Josiah received his prosthetic from Shriners Hospitals for Children - St. Louis. If the prosthetic is not found, she believes it will be replaced by the Shriners. Also, she said two area companies already have contacted her saying they would replace it but she said it was too early to say which step they would take since they are still trying to find the stolen prosthetic.

Stephens said anyone with information about the missing prosthetic is asked to call her at 618-604-2814 or the Belleville Police Department at 618-234-1212.

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and grew up in St. Louis.


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