The unfolding story of a five-year-old Indiana boy who allegedly disappeared 19 years ago, is getting more complicated.
The boy, now a 24-year-old married man living in Browerville, Minn., said his paternal grandparents did the right thing, according to Minneapolis TV station KARE.
His biological father, Richard W. Landers, says he visited the grandparents, Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers, and gave them permission to temporarily take the boy because he had no job at the time and could not take care of him.
There were reports that his mother, Lisa Harter, was mildly developmentally disabled and lived at least temporarily in a car.
Her current husband, Richard Harter, told the Associated Press she was "jumping up and down for joy" when she learned that her son had been found. He said his wife is "the happiest woman on earth."
KARE said Michael Landers, the name Richard Landers, Jr. was living under, posted a warning on the station’s Facebook page saying that before jumping to “conclusions you should find out the whole story.”
He went on to say: “I was where I needed to be. My grandparents were in the right. I don’t care what anyone else thinks," signed Richard Wayne Landers.
His wife, Bobbi, commented on the same thread: "He had been living under his grandparents care since he was a 6-month-old baby. He was where he wanted (to be) and needed to be to be safe and become the man he is today, my husband and best friend."
Associated Press also published the Facebook account, after checking it out. The news agency said it appeared to be Landers' based on multiple links between it and confirmed friends and relatives.
Retired La Grange sheriff’s deputy John Russell, who had been investigating the case, said he never thought the boy was in any danger.
The boy was in a custody battle between his paternal grandparents and his biological mother. At one point the grandparents had custody.
Mrs. Harter’s lawyer, Richard Muntz, said: “We had a number of hearings and during the last one the judge said: ‘I don't know if the mother can handle the situation, but we have to give it a try.” The judge ordered the child returned to the mother for a trial period.
Muntz said the grandparents left the hearing, went to the bank and took out $5000 from a home equity account, had a breakfast and then disappeared.
No charges have been filed.
Child custody battles frequently end with one parent taking a child across state lines. It is sometimes called Self-Help.