This Detective Found Two Boys Living in Horrible Conditions and Decided to Make Them His Own

 

There’s no denying that the family is an important part of human existence. In all societies around the world, the family is the most basic social unit, providing emotional and physical support. For children, a family the biggest influence on their growth.

There are many different ways of forming a family, and the notion of family has changed over time. It doesn’t have to mean two biological parents and their children. A family can mean anyone you grow up with that provides you the support and unconditional love that all humans need.

Without a Family

So, what happens to children who for whatever reason don’t have parents to look after them, or whose parents don’t provide a safe environment for them to live in? Well, hopefully they will have relatives such as grandparents, aunts, or uncles who can help to provide them with the home and care they need.

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This is not always the case, however, and some children are essentially on their own. The traditional orphanage no longer exists in the US – instead, these children are placed into foster care. This is either a group home or with foster parents, where they stay until they can be reunited with family or they are old enough to live on their own.

The Pittsburgh Detective

Our story starts with a man named Jack Mook. For more than 20 years he has been a member of the Pittsburgh Police Department, and his role as a detective meant he had developed a tough persona to cope with the things he saw in the line of duty.

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His colleagues at the department would describe him as a man’s man. He had always lived a single life, feeling that things suited him better and were much easier without too many responsibilities.

His Community Spirit

That’s not to say he was not a caring man, however. Jack had always been passionate about giving back to his community. As a police officer and a military veteran, he was asked to become a volunteer at Steel City Boxing.

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This was a non-profit organization that helped disadvantaged kids learn how to box. Fighting was just a secondary benefit of the sports center however, the training instilled them with discipline and gave them a sense of confidence and community.

Josh & Jessee

Jack Mook met several underprivileged children during his time as a trainer at Steel City Boxing. Two of these were brothers Joshua and Jessee, who were just 9 and 6, respectively, when Jack started to train with Josh.

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Mook had a good way of communicating with kids, and before long he formed a bond with Josh. As he honed the boy’s natural talent for boxing, he got to know a bit about him and his younger brother, and why they had come to the gym.

The Boys’ Situation

When Mook discovered more about the situation the brothers were living in, he was deeply saddened. Although he knew that many of the kids that attended the gym came from disadvantaged or difficult backgrounds, but this story was hard for him to hear. 

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The boys had grown up in extreme poverty. At the time they were still living with their parents, but the house was dilapidated and filled with roaches and rats. The house was so run down that it was later condemned.

Keeping His Distance

You may wonder why such a compassionate and caring man didn’t step in and do something about these two brothers. It must have been hard to see these boys doing it tough, and with his police contacts, it would have been simple enough to raise the alarm.

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“I’ve seen poor kids on the street my whole life, and on the job,” Mook later revealed in an interview. “I just thought, ‘It’s none of my business as long as he’s coming to the gym and he’s got energy.’ ”

The Brothers’ Absence

Josh and Jessee used the gym as a way to escape and forget their problems. “Those two hours a day kept [us] out of a lot of trouble,” said Josh in a later interview. “I knew I could go there and forget about everything else.”

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After Josh and Jessee had been training at the gym for a couple of years, Jack Mook noticed that the brothers failed to show up for their regular session. Knowing that the training meant so much to the boys, he began to worry.

Jack Goes Looking

When the brothers still hadn’t turned up at the gym, he became more and more worried. “One week turned into two and then three, I got worried,” Jack revealed in an interview. “Josh was dedicated. It was concerning”.

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With no sign of the boys, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Knowing how hard their home life had been, he was worried about what might have happened to the two brothers. He decided to use his police contacts to help him discover the truth.

He Finds Them

Jack eventually tracked down Josh and Jessee at their school. Though he was happy to have found them, what he saw didn’t help alleviate any of his fears for the two siblings, in fact, he was now even more worried.

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He got the boys in the car and started speaking to Josh. “He looked horrible,” Mook recalled. “His hair was really stringy, blotches were missing. He had bags under his eyes. He looked like a 40-year-old man who just lost his job.”

Their Home Life

Jack Mook learned that their home life had become unbearable. Their biological parents were battling drug issues that neglected their sons, essentially leaving them to fend for themselves. They had been sent to live with several different relatives, but the conditions weren’t any better.

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Josh and Jessee were living with an aunt and uncle, but what they detective’s heart. The two brothers hadn’t had a bed for six years and were forced to sleep on the couch or the floor. They didn’t have toothbrushes and their teeth were rotting.

The Terrible Conditions

As Joshua continued to talk to Jack, he opened up about just how bad things had become. “Coach, we have to sleep on the floor and there’s nothing but dog feces on the floor”, the teenager confessed.

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He cried as he went on, explaining things to his boxing coach, “I’m trying to sleep my life away. I go to sleep as early as possible so I can sleep until I have to go back to school.” Mook thought things must be bad if a kid wants to go to school to escape their home situation.

Mook Takes Action

Hearing this story was too much to bear, even for the seasoned detective. He decided then and there that he needed to step in and get these kids he had become so fond of out of their current home.

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It wasn’t as easy as he had hoped though. When Jack Mook spoke to city officials about removing them from their uncle’s house and becoming their guardian, he was told there was no need. Mook revealed, “A caseworker told me they were fine, and I said they’re not fine,”

An Unfortunate Incident

Things changed for Mook and these brothers when the boys’ uncle had a run-in with the law. The man fled from police in his vehicle, which he crashed into another car before hitting an embankment on the city’s north side.

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Mook was furious – he realized that the boys could have easily been passengers in the car and would have been hurt. He immediately put in an emergency order to become a foster father for the brothers and have them removed from the home immediately.

The Challenges He Faced

Though he was confident that he wanted to take on guardianship of these two brothers, there were some changes that Mook had to make. After all, he had living life as a bachelor for so long, with no responsibilities to anyone except himself.

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He could no longer go out as he had done as a single man. And as he wanted to set a good example for the boys, he stopped buying takeout. He commented, "I'm in here trying to learn my culinary skills."

The Red Tape

It wasn’t just the challenges at home that faced Jack Mook. He realized there were day-to-day dealings with institutions, such as the health care system, that was more difficult to navigate as a foster parent.

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On one occasion, Mook took Jessee to a nearby hospital, but they were turned away by the receptionist – she had requested paperwork to show that Mook was the boy’s legal guardian. Instances such as these made Mook realize there was still more that could be done to help the boys.

The Next Step

Despite the changes that he had to make, Jack Mook loved having these boys in his life. He also felt passionately that they should be given a better chance than what they had had so far. He believed “a child should be a child, not a survivor”.

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After discussing it with Josh and Jesse, Jack Mook made the application to adopt the two brothers. He wanted to provide them with a stable home, with the opportunity to go through school and become self-sufficient and productive members of society.

Making It Legal

In September 2014, a year after becoming the boys’ foster parent, the adoption was finalized and Josh and Jessee took on the surname Mook. On leaving the court Jack had said to them, “You’re a Mook. Alright? You happy? Good. Now you’re going to go home and cut my grass.”

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The boys’ biological parents weren’t forgotten in all of this, however. Mook wanted to make sure that they would still be a part of their lives. He explained, Mook said. “Their biological dad is still their dad. I want them to be a part of the good things they experience.”

Unexpected Developments

Jack had expected and prepared for the changes he would have to make adopting two boys after living for years as a bachelor. And he was happy to take on the new role that fate had given him.

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But one thing he hadn’t planned for was the attention he and the boys would receive. The heartwarming story of this single man taking on two troubled teens was picked up by local news, and suddenly the new family became locally famous.

Going Viral

It was when their story hit the internet that things started to change. Suddenly Jack and the two new Mooks were not just in the national press, but on websites and social media worldwide. They were flooded with messages of support.

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To Jack’s surprise, a number of these messages were from women who were showing a particular interest in him personally. They reached out over email and social media asking for the chance to get to meet him and maybe go on a date.

He Meets His Match

You’ll be pleased to know that Jack did end up meeting a woman, but not one that had sent him a message via the internet. He met Mary in a bar one night, though she does admit that it wasn’t as much of a coincidence as it might seem.

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She had seen his story online and wanted to meet him, so she went to a bar that she knew he would visit, hoping to get the chance to make an introduction. Her plan worked better than she could have hoped.

The Happy Ending

The two hit it off immediately and they have been inseparable ever since. They ended up getting married and Mary brought to the family her three children from a previous marriage – creating their own modern-day Brady Bunch.

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Jack describes his new life, “I thought being single was fun because you don’t have any responsibilities. But when you’re single, you don’t realize what you’re missing. I’m glad I let her [Mary] break through that barrier and take me away from that life.”

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