And now for some good news: A mom who held out hope since 1994 must have been beyond ecstatic to find out her son, who was abducted at age 5, is alive and well today. Reportedly, his paternal grandparents, upset over a custody dispute, took matters into their own hands and kidnapped the boy, changed all their names and moved away.
Richard Landers Jr., who was taken from LaGrange County, Ind., is married and now living in Long Prairie, Minn. According to WIBC Indy’s News Center, charges were dropped against his grandparents in 2008 when authorities were unable to locate them.
Sheriff Terry Martin said, "It’s nice to put closure to this case and now the family can begin the process of reconnecting with their loved one. This is an example of interagency cooperation, both here in Indiana and in Minnesota, that allowed this almost 19-year case to come to a successful conclusion."
So, how was Landers, Jr., located? His Social Security number, of all things! The case, which had actually gone cold, was recently reopened when the parents contacted authorities with his Social Security Number.
It will be interesting to see how authorities handle this case, since almost 20 years have passed. Will the grandparents be charged?
Can you imagine the excitement, not only of the immediate family, but of investigators and police involved in the case, and of all the families holding out hope for their lost or abducted children still out there somewhere? How many like Jaycee Dugard and Richard Landers Jr.’s are still out there?
Jaycee Dugard’s case was solved some 18 years later, albeit under different circumstances, but surely the same relief from all involved.
As journalists, each time we report the news we must weigh whether our reporting is responsible and serves the public well. We must weigh the possible outcome of our choice of topics and how we present stories and updates. We hope we will not bring about copycat behavior, as in the cases of many shooting incidents of which the public needs to be informed.
In this case, I hope for copycats. Not in abductors, but in solved cases. I hope the cold-case authorities will follow those leads that nag at them and cause them to lose sleep. I hope that every family member who comes across a new piece of information will call authorities and get those cases reopened.
My hope is that authorities will throw the book at the grandparents who brought such pain to the family of Richard Landers Jr. My hope is this kind of news will deter people from even thinking about causing such pain to families.
What do you think should happen?
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