LAGRANGE COUNTY, Ind. (AP/WANE) – The story of missing boy Richard Wayne Landers, Jr. from LaGrange County being found over 18 years later, has made national news.
The Todd County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Richard Wayne Landers, Jr. was living under the name Michael Jeff Landers in rural Browerville, Minnesota.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Ron Galaviz said Landers, Jr. is now 24 and married. He and his wife are expecting their first child.
Police believe Landers, Jr.’s paternal grandparents abducted the boy because they were upset over court proceedings regarding the placement of their grandson. Landers had lived with his grandparents since birth.
The then-5-year-old boy’s mother and stepfather were unemployed and lived in a car at the time of the abduction, according to LaGrange County Sheriff Department Deputy John Russell.
Landers, Jr.’s grandparents were also found living in Browerville under the assumed names Raymond Michael Iddings, 67, and Susan Kay Iddings, 63.
Investigators said the grandparents told them their true identities and confirmed that the 24-year-old man was Richard Wayne Landers, Jr., who had been missing since 1994.
Galaviz said it appears Landers’ father was never in the picture. Lisa, Landers, Jr.’s mother, and Richard Harter had married a year before the boy’s abduction.
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Richard Harter said his wife was “jumping up and down for joy” when investigators told her a few days ago that her son had been found.
Harter said his wife is “the happiest woman on earth.”
According to Russell, who is now retired, arrest warrants were issued for both grandparents, charging them with Interference with Custody, a class B misdemeanor.
Russell said he knew the family personally and believed the grandparents would not harm Landers, Jr.
“I just knew that they were not the kind of people that were going to see that he got hurt at all, but it was wrong,” said Russell.
In 1999, charges against the grandparents were elevated to Interference with Custody, a class C felony. In September 2008, after the child and his grandparents had still not been found, the LaGrange County Prosecutor’s Office dropped the charges.
The LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department said there will be no charges filed against Lander, Jr.’s grandparents because the statute of limitations has expired in LaGrange County.
However, according to police, there is an ongoing investigation in Minnesota that will be forwarded to the United States Attorney General’s Office for review of possible charges.
The grandparents could face federal charges, according to the Todd County Sheriff’s Office.