In 1994, a little boy caught in the middle of a custody battle was taken from his home by his paternal grandparents. Now that little boy has been found nearly 20 years later and will have the opportunity to reunite with his mother.
Richard Wayne Landers Jr., along with his grandparents, Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers disappeared in 1994 because the grandparents were "upset over pending court proceedings." Landers Jr.'s father was reportedly never a part of his life and was due to be given over to the care of his mother, which upset his grandparents.
Police began searching for Landers Jr. immediately and even charged the grandparents with misdemeanor interference with custody, which was bumped to a felony level in 1999. Unfortunately, investigators were never able to convince the grandparents to provide any evidence, so the case went cold and the charge of interference was dropped.
Then, Richard Harter turned Landers Jr.'s Social Security card over to a detective, thereby reopening the case. That led detectives to a 24-year-old man living in Minnesota with the same Social Security number and date of birth. Eventually, it was proven that the man was Randy Wayne Landers, Jr.
He is now married and expecting his first child, the Associated Press reported, and hopes to reunite with his mother soon.
Lisa Harter, Randy's mother, was "jumping up and down for joy" husband Harter told the AP. She is "the happiest woman on earth."
Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers were found living near their grandson, and it is still unknown whether they will face charges in the case. Thankfully, though, Sgt. Ron Galaviz said the boy, now a young man, was in good health and living a happy life.
"By all accounts, it didn't appear he suffered from any abuse, either physical or mental," Galaviz told the AP.
"It's nice to put closure to this case and now the family can begin the process of re-connecting with their loved one," LaGrange County Sheriff Terry Martin told Fox News.
"This is an example of inter-agency cooperation, both here in Indiana and in Minnesota that allowed this almost 19-year case to come to a successful conclusion," added Indiana State Police Detective Jeff Boyd.
It's clear that the public is split between supporting the actions of the grandparents, given that the father was never truly a part of his son's life, and condemning them for robbing a mother of her son's life.
"What a horrible, horrible thing to do to the child's mother. Absolutely NO excuse – she has missed the entire life of her child – whose grandparents were apparently no better than their dead-beat son. They SHOULD be charged with something and prosecuted," zeraezell posted on ABC.com.
"Apparently the boy was raise alright by his grandparents – I'm glad the charges were dropped. They didn't uproot their whole lives to grab the boy and run for any minor reason," Mary Miller argued on Fox.com.