Wednesday, November 25, 2009

30 years later, she finds her father
living on the streets of St. Petersburg



For decades, Carl Schmidlin kept a photo of a daughter he hadn’t seen in 30 years. He lost the photo but has reconnected with the daughter.


Jenna Lombardi was 3 when Carl Schmidlin left. She didn't know he even existed until she was 12, didn't start looking for him until she was 18. She would spend more than a decade searching, wondering what had become of him.

Her search ended at a park in downtown St. Petersburg.

Schmidlin, 57, says after he and Lombardi's mom divorced, he bounced from job to job — a wastewater treatment plant, machinery factories, telemarketing companies.

Drinking got in the way. He spent more than four years in prison for selling cocaine.

The whole time, he wondered about the little girl he barely knew.

He never looked for her, thinking she was better off without him, he says. His only real link was a Polaroid photograph, taken on her sixth birthday at a backyard patio table.

A couple of weeks ago, he stashed the photo in a backpack beside a women's health clinic. When he returned from a prayer vigil, the bag was gone, and so was everything in it — his seizure medication, his ID cards, the photo of his daughter.

Read the St. Petersburg Times article here.

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