Memorial fund set up for girl presumed dead

Sheriff: Kayaking father and daughter presumed drowned.
Joe Centers
Apr 16, 2013


A Viola Francis Memorial fund has been set up.

Viola and her father, Jonathan, did not return April 6 after going kayaking in the Sandusky Bay.

Area authorities have switched from a search-and-rescue operation to an attempt to recover the bodies of a missing Sandusky man and his 12-year-old daughter.

"At this point they're presumed drowned," Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

Sigsworth said that presumption is based on information received from Francis' girlfriend the next morning and the recovery of kayaks later that day.

About 5 p.m. April 6, a witness called to say he was driving over the Edison bridge on Ohio 2 and saw two people in kayaks on the bay, west of the bridge. That was the area where the father and daughter were headed.

Then, about 10:30 a.m. April 7, two empty kayaks were located near Lightner Road in Ottawa County. A pair of shoes also was found near the kayaks.

"At this point the presumption is that they drowned and we're trying to give the family some closure," said Sigsworth, who added it appears the kayaks capsized. "Everything we've learned through the investigation sadly leads us to believe that they probably drowned in the bay."

Sigsworth said the water was about 40 degrees at the time and the individuals didn't have flotation devices or survival gear. Hypothermia, or lack of body heat, can set in quickly in such temperatures.

Anyone interested can make a donation to any Fifth Third Bank. The funds will be used for funeral and showing arrangements, said Timothy Snyder Jr., a friend of Viola's mother.

"People have been donating food and supplies for the search and we appreciate all of the help," Snyder said. "Anything is appreciated."




how do u consider them to be drowned when a pair of shoes are found near a kayak? it makes no sense! there is still that chance that there alive. the gf didnt report them missing till like 12 hrs later which gave the father enough time to skip state with his daughter

tell it how it is

He had full custody of her. There was no point in skipping state.

That would, of course, be most people's first thoughts. But, as I said, he did have full custody so it's extremely unlikely.


I do not want to be rude or seem insensitive but what is the standard time frame for people to be pronounced legally dead? With no body or no evidence, how do they definitively pronounce you dead? Is the memorial fund to cover expenses?


IMO..i don't think they are dead...i think he ran off with her to get her away from his gf... if im wrong it wont be the first time... just something fishy about this whole thing...


not to b rude but pretty sure if they drowned the bodies would have surfaced and the shoes and kayaks would not have ended up in the same place....dont shoes sink?who set up the fund? pretty odd stuff in this case

Sitting In The ...

It the most horrible way to die, your body becomes starved for oxygen and sadly you literally breath in water and suffocate which causes your body to sink to the bottom of the drink. It's only after time when the gases in the body reach a certain point do they eventually float to the surface. Normally as we've seen in the past this takes a matter of days. Depending on the currents they could be out in the middle of the lake by now or they were swept to shore. If in fact they did drown they will be discovered once boat traffic increases. As someone who nearly drowned in Lake Erie I sincerely hope they are both alive because the alternative is absolutely horrific.


Shoes do not sink when the "shoes" are crocs. Crocs slip on and off, and they float! It makes perfect sense for the "shoes" to be in the same vicinity as the kyaks if they fell out of a tipped over kyak. It aso makes sense that 2 kyaks of the same size and weight drifting in the same current end up in close proximity to one another. No, the bodies would not have surfaced. A drowning victim sinks to the bottom rather quickly. The time to resurface varies depending on water temperature, fresh water vs salt water, depth of water, and so forth. The Pink Panther Club (Inspector Clouseau's) should get their facts straight before posting their BS theories where the family, where I, read them. While I'm on the subject of the bumbling detective wanna be's: yes, a vehicle used to transport the kyaks was parked at the dock, Jon had custody of Viola, so he didn't need to "take her out of a bad situation". No, this is not a set up. It was a nice Saturday afternoon, the bay area was calm, Jon wasn't "lake smart" he just wanted to spend time with his daughter whom he loved and she loved him. Obviously errors were made, our family is aware of that. We also feel the loss of 2 loved ones and we just want to recover their bodies and give them a proper burial. Yes, Hoss McGee, we are a proud family "we is educated, contributing members of society". You really want to down us because you didn't approve of the shirt my brother was wearing? Next time, we'll be sure to dig through the family albums (sarcasm). I assume this fund was set up by Viola's mom to cover funeral expenses for Viola. There is no mystery here to solve. Jon and VI were last seen about 200 yards west of the Edison Bridge. It has been 10 days now, THIS is the time frame that they should surface. If you want to help our family then please keep your eyes on the water and your fingers off your keyboards.


I think I'm going to have to agree with some of the above comments. I don't think they had drowned. Like linedriver said, the bodies would have surfaced by now. Unless something was tied to them to hold them down. I think he skipped town with the daughter. Maybe kidnap? I don't know who has custody of the little girl. Him or the ex. But again, the shoes just happened to be near the kayaks. How would that happen, unless set up? Some shoes can float, some can sink. Either way, it's suspicious that they were found by the kayaks...

tell it how it is

Just to comment on people saying the bodies would have been found by now: not necessarily. The water has been unpredictable the past week due to the storms we've been having. There's been some pretty big ones in the middle of the night. Plus, there's been flooding everywhere. The bodies could be literally ANYWHERE.
To say they should have surfaced by now is considerably incorrect due to the weather.


Well then to "assume they are dead" would be considerably incorrect UNTIL the bodies have surfaced....still something fishy... and at ALISSA28...if you want help with funeral expences you shouldnt be so rude!


You have posted your theory more than once. The authorities, you know, the people who do this for a living have dismissed this idea. If you have some solid evidence to prove your theory then by all means, give them a call. And honey, keep your money in your pocket or better yet buy yourself a book, it would give you something constructive to do with your time and you just might learn something. Suggested reading; "The Mouth Trap: Strategies, Tips, and Secrets to Keep Your Foot Out of Your Mouth" Gary Seigel, 2008.


haha.. that was funny. Everyone has their opinions on things...

Kottage Kat

I also will keep my $. This a terrible situation and I pray for all. When the time comes for a funeral I will gladly donate.
Pre-need planning ??? I am sure any funeral director will work with the family.


Not to be morbid but because of the temp of the water, it can slow decomp. down alot, which is what causes the body to float. Also, since the lake has been churned up from recent weather, it's very likely they will not be found soon. So for you asinine people that continually see everything as something suspicious, just think before you speak.


alissa28- I am sincerely sorry for your family to go thru this and still have moronic people crawl out from under a rock. My sympathy and condolences.


now we are moronic people... well...that was rude!


Everyone does have their opinion And everytime I see her little face or her daddies all that go through my mind are what ifs... but thats not gonna bring them back or change anything. The whole situation is something no family should have to go through,but unfortunately that is life.The only thing that bothers me about this whole thing is why in the world would his girlfriend wait sooo long to call for help...