Private letters for dad discovered in Detroit River

(WXYZ) - They were meant to be private letters for a dad, but six hand written notes discovered floating in the water set off a year long journey and a future filled with hope.

Nick Anderson was fishing in the murky waters of the Detroit River and almost ignored the plastic bottle that would touch so many lives.

"I found it Father's Day, almost a year ago, 2013." said Anderson.  "As I was going past it, I noticed that it had something in it."  

Driven by curiosity, or was it fate, Nick scooped it up. 

"How often do you find a bottle with messages in it?" said Anderson.   Inside, letters from six children to their father.  Nick started reading them.  It was clear the children's father had died. " I read all of the letters, at the end of reading them, I was like jelly," said Anderson

Nick tried for a year to track down the family, but with just a few names to go on, he had no luck.  Then a business meeting sent the search in a new direction.  Pastor Barry Randolph with the Church of the Messiah in Detroit met Nick while they were doing a real estate deal.  Nick shared his story of finding the messages in the bottle.

"He showed me the letters," said Pastor Randolph. "Immediately my heart melted.  I said, I want to do something for these young people."

Pastor Randolph reached out to Action News, and with the help of Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett, we put faces to the names.  We found the Travis children, their amazing mother Renee and the enduring power of a father.

Michael Travis was killed four years ago in a senseless act of violence.  His death has been hard on his family. 

"Every year since he passed, when we go to the cemetery, it would drain our spirits," said Renee. 

Last year, Renee came up with having her children write letters to their dad . They put them in a bottle and tossed it into the Detroit river. 

"I told the kids he will see the letters, he is in heaven, they will get to him," said Renee.

No one dreamed those letters would come back and that Nick and Pastor Randolph would show up on their doorstep. 

"I really do believe their dad is an angel, he is an angel, he knew that bottle would be found.  He wanted the best for his children, the best for his family," said Pastor Randolph.

For Renee and her children, it's proof that God answers prayers, and Michael really did see those letters in a bottle.

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