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  • 11 January 2013, 19:18

Richard Landers: Missing Boy Found 19 Years On

A boy who vanished from his home town almost 20 years ago has been found alive and living under an assumed name 700 miles away.

Richard Wayne Landers was five years old when he was abducted in 1994 by his paternal grandparents from the town of Wolcottville, Indiana, in an apparent custody dispute.

News he was found safe at the age of 24 left his mother, Lisa Hartner, "overjoyed and jumping up-and-down," according to her husband Richard, who added his wife was "the happiest woman on Earth".

Police said it appeared Mr Landers' biological father was absent in his life and his mother had married Mr Hartner a year before he went missing.

Detectives believe the boy's grandparents became upset about a pending court hearing regarding custody and secretly took him away to an unknown destination.

Police worked tirelessly with Mrs Hartner to locate her son and arrest warrants were issued for the grandparents, but no trace was ever found of them.

Then in September 2012, Mr Hartner found the boy's old social security card, which police used to establish a man living in Long Prairie, Minnesota, was using the same social security number.

Police checked the man's driving license photograph and discovered he bore a striking resemblance to the missing boy.

Further enquiries revealed the grandparents were living seven miles away under assumed names.

When questioned by police they admitted their true identities and confessed the young man was their grandson.

Investigators have not released the names under which Mr Landers and his grandparents had been living, but they revealed he is now married and due to become a father.

"It's nice to put closure to this case and now the family can begin the process of re-connecting with their loved one," said La Grange County Sheriff Terry Martin.

Indiana State Police Detective Jeff Boyd added: "This is an example of inter-agency co-operation, both here in Indiana and in Minnesota that allowed this almost 19-year case to come to a successful conclusion."

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