It’s not frequent. Sometimes you might miss it. But every once in a while, a missing persons case that seemed utterly bleak ends on a happy note.
That’s just what’s happened earlier this month, when a 13-year-old missing boy got to reunite with his mother in Florida, 4 years later.
A strange case
The boy (whose name is withheld due to his age) was missing for four long years. He was not on any missing persons’ lists, and it is unclear whether his mother actually reported him missing when it happened. She says that she’d been looking for him for years, and finally started receiving text messages and photos from her child, which she gave the police. These messages and pictures led the police to the boy’s father and stepmother’s house just outside of Atlanta – in a little suburb called Jonesboro.
The police who responded and went to the home were unable to find the boy at first, despite shouting for him in the garage, where he was supposedly being held. They left, but a supervisor told them to return and to continue the search. The police questioned the occupants of the home who finally told the police to go to a closet on the third floor. Sergeant Joanne Southerland discovered a removable panel along the back wall. Inside, she found the boy. The officer said the boy was frightened, but they were able to calm him down.
At first, the family in the home (including three teenagers) denied knowing about another child in the house. The father said that he had a 13-year-old son who was living with relatives in New York.
The police have not said how the boy knew to contact his mother or whose phone he used to do so. They have also declined to declare which parent has legal custody of the child, as they do not want to say or do anything that could compromise the investigation.
Currently, the boy’s father and stepmother are facing false imprisonment charges, as well as obstruction and cruelty to children. The other three teenagers in the home were also arrested.
Everything seemed normal
Neighbors say that the entire family seemed very normal and that nothing seemed amiss in the house at all. In fact, they even claim to have seen the missing boy playing outside on numerous occasions.
Neighbors who met the boy said he seemed quiet, but not as though anything was noticeably odd or wrong. Other children in the neighborhood had even played with the boy on occasion.
Police did say that the child was not in any of the area public schools. While this does add fuel to the speculation that the father and stepmother knowingly kept him out of school to avoid being detected, it is not definite evidence. The police investigation will have to uncover the real story.
It’s often the people you know that you can’t trust
Something else to note with this case is the fact that the father and the stepmother were behind the abduction. Whenever a child is missing, the police always seem to concentrate on family members and friends of the family. The reason is simple – quite often, the culprit is someone that the child knows. If you have someone missing in your life, whether it is a family member or a friend, the police are the first people to call. If they aren’t able to help, turn to a private investigator who has options and resources the police don’t have.
This case is still very fresh and the details are still emerging, but it certainly will be interesting to see how everything unfolds. Keep an eye out for more information, as this is one that could fly a bit below the radar with everything else happening this time of year and you might not catch it in the regular news channels.
The good news is that the mother and the son will have a reunion both probably didn’t believe was possible, and just in time for the holidays.