A mother broke down when her little boy was kidnapped. The case eventually had to be shut down as police couldn't find him anywhere. But, there was still hope. Vital numbers gave them clues to the son's possible whereabouts.
In 1994, Richard Landers Jr. was just a 5-year-old boy when none other than his paternal grandparents abducted him.
They took him from his then hometown of Wolcottville, Indiana, and vanished. It turns out that they were hiding in plain sight.
[Left] Richard Landers Jr. as a child; [Right] Richard Landers Jr. as an adult. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News
The police searched everywhere, but the case eventually went cold after a decade. Initially, the grandparents, Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers faced a charge of misdemeanor interference.
By 1999, the couple faced a felony charge. But, by 2008, when the authorities stopped the investigation, all of these charges were dropped. At this point, it looked like Richard was gone forever.
But, Raymond Michael and Susan Kay Iddings, who lived in the nearby town of Browerville, had a secret. This information would blow the case wide open.
THE SHOCKING TRUTH
This secret began unraveling in 2013 when Richard Jr.'s stepfather gave a state detective a Social Security card. This card was also given to the then-5-year-old when he went missing.
This evidence led them to a young adult in Long Prairie, Minnesota, with the same Social Security number. The man was no other than the grown Richard Jr. The spokesman for Indiana State Police, Ron Galaviz, said:
"He's been found alive and well. There's a lot of policemen here in LaGrange County (Ind.) and the family here in LaGrange County who are awfully excited because 19 long years have come to an end."
His grandparents, who had raised him, lived in Browerville under the aliases Raymond Michael and Susan Kay Iddings. They were now facing charges.
AN UNDERSTANDABLE ABDUCTION?
These people were living right under everyone's noses. But, what is more shocking is that, while they broke the law, many sympathized with them. The spokesman stated:
"These people [the grandparents] were nice people. It was wrong for them to do it, but I can understand why."
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
These seemingly strange views are because of custody arrangements that sparked the mess. They did not believe the pre-schoolers mother could look after him. One reason for this opinion is that investigators claimed that she lived in her car.
The court gave her trial custody. So, before she could receive full guardianship, the grandparents fled with him. They decided to look after their grandson in the way he deserved.
But, the mom's lawyer claimed that these statements about her living in a car were not true. Instead, he said she only stayed there for three days -- generally attempting to prove that she was a capable mother.
A REUNION IN THE WORKS?
As for whether this mom and her long-lost child met up, there was no information provided at the time. Galaviz said that the son would have to make that decision, stating:
"Being a young adult now, that's going to be up to him."
The mom was ecstatic at the hope of meeting her boy. She was jumping up and down because she was so happy. Whatever opinions we may have, it is clear that all these people care deeply about Richard Jr.
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