WOLCOTTEVILLE, Ind. — A 24-year old Indiana man has been identified as the five-year-old boy who was taken from his parents about 19 years ago during a custody battle.
Richard Wayne Landers Jr. was just 5 years old when he and his paternal grandparents, who were upset over custody arrangements and the likelihood that his mother would take him, disappeared from Wolcottville, a town about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne.
Nineteen years later, Indiana State Police found the adult Landers about 675 miles away in Long Prairie, Minn., because of his Social Security number. Police said Landers is married and expecting his first child. His grandparents had reportedly given him another name and they were also living under aliases in a nearby town.
“It’s just too bad that those many years have gone by, but I’m really happy that he was found and everything’s okay,” said John Russell, a retired Lagrange County Sheriff’s Deputy who worked the case in Indiana. “I made contacts with as many family members I could find and just kept hitting a dead end.”
Police would not say whether the grandparents would face charges, but the Lagrange County Sheriff’s Department says, because the statue of limitations has expired, they can’t file charges. The class C felony charge of Interference with Custody was dropped in 2008.
According to the AP, police say the boy’s father was never involved in his life.
For reaction from Landers’ mother and step-father, click here for the Associated Press/FOX News story.