Richard Landers Jr. was just 5 years old when he vanished from his Indiana home. Now, 19 years later, he's been found alive.
Richard Wayne Landers Jr., Indiana Boy Abducted In 1994, Found In Minnesota
INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana woman whose young son was abducted 19 years ago was screaming and "jumping up and down" after learning he was living in Minnesota under a different name, her husband said Thursday shortly after police announced they had found him.
Richard Wayne Landers Jr. was just 5 years old when he and his paternal grandparents, who were upset over custody arrangements, disappeared from Wolcottville, a town about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne.
Indiana State Police said the now 24-year-old Landers was found in Long Prairie, Minn., thanks in part to his Social Security number. His grandparents were living under aliases in a nearby town and confirmed his identity, investigators said.
Police declined to say whether the grandparents would face charges, citing the ongoing investigation.
Landers' mother, Lisa Harter, was "jumping up and down for joy" when investigators told her a few days ago that her son had been found, her husband Richard Harter told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He said his wife is "the happiest woman on earth."
Harter said he and his wife were working with an attorney and hoped to reunite with his stepson soon. Police said Landers is married and expecting his first child.
Harter declined further comment and referred questions about the case to his attorney, who didn't immediately return phone messages Thursday. Investigators declined to release the names under which Landers and his grandparents had been living.
Police said the boy's paternal grandparents, Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers, abducted him in July 1994 because they were "upset over pending court proceedings" regarding his placement.
Police spokesman Sgt. Ron Galaviz said it appears the boy's father was never in the picture. Lisa and Richard Harter had married a year earlier.
Authorities believe the grandparents took the boy from their home in Wolcottville and fled. They were charged at the time with misdemeanor interference with custody, which was bumped up to a felony in 1999. But the charge was dismissed in 2008 after the case went cold.
Investigators reopened the case in September when Richard Harter turned over the boy's Social Security card to an Indiana State Police detective.
That turned up a man with the same Social Security number and date of birth living in Long Prairie, Minn., about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis. A driver's license photo for the man appeared to resemble Landers, police said.
Indiana State Police then contacted Minnesota law enforcement agencies, which began investigating along with the FBI and the Social Security Administration.
The grandparents were found living in nearby Browerville, Minn.
"By all accounts, it didn't appear he suffered from any abuse, either physical or mental," Galaviz said.
Yes, I am interested too, what was the disagreement all about. Maybe, since the father was not in the picture, seems the mother didn't want paternal GPs to have visitation rights?
I read this yesterday and am interested to understand what the placement disagreement was all about. I find it absolutely amazing that they could not get a line of the grandparents for nearly 20 years. Something is missing from this tale IMO.
I am curious as to why the case was closed and 4 years later his SS# was run through the system and got a hit. Did it not get run 4 years ago before they closed the case? Did it not get run when that kind of technology first came available? And he was even using the same birthday.
I am very happy for this mother. How amazing she must be feeling right now!
Yeah, whatever were their reasons to kidnap the grandchild, they were wrong. GPs can't replace the mother. I want to know, how they explain him why all these years his parents weren't in his life?
Read this today too and thought "wow"....shame on those "grandparents".
Imagine losing all those years? :(