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Richard Landers Jr., Ind. boy abducted in 1994, found living in Minnesota, police say

This photo provided by the Indiana State Police shows Richard Wayne Landers, Jr. who authorities say was abducted from Indiana by his paternal grandparents in 1994 during custody proceedings. Authorities say a 24-year-old man with the same Social Security number and date of birth as Landers but living under a different name was located in October, 2012 in Long Prairie, Minn. Police said his grandparents were also living under aliases nearby and confirmed his identity. (AP Photo/Indiana State Police)

A young photo of Richard Wayne Landers, Jr. who was abducted from Indiana by his paternal grandparents in 1994
AP Photo/Indiana State Police

(CBS/AP) INDIANAPOLIS - An Indiana woman whose young son was abducted 19 years ago was screaming and "jumping up and down" after learning he was living in Minnesota under a different name, her husband said Thursday shortly after police announced they had found him.

Indiana State Police said Richard Landers Jr. was abducted in July 1994 when he and his paternal grandparents, who were upset over custody arrangements, disappeared from Wolcottville, a town about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne.

Police said they used Richard Lander's Social Security number to help discover the now 24-year-old man living in Long Prairie, Minn., about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

His grandparents were living under aliases in a nearby town and confirmed his identity. Investigators declined to release the names under which Landers and his grandparents had been living.

Landers' mother, Lisa Harter, was "jumping up and down for joy" when investigators told her a few days ago that her son had been found, her husband Richard Harter told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

He said his wife is "the happiest woman on earth."

Harter said he and his wife were working with an attorney and hoped to reunite with his stepson soon. Police said Landers is married and expecting his first child.

Police said the boy's paternal grandparents, Richard and Ruth Landers, abducted him in July 1994 because they were "upset over pending court proceedings" regarding his placement. Police spokesman Sgt. Ron Galaviz said it appears the boy's father was never in the picture.

Authorities believed that the grandparents took the boy from their home in Wolcottville and fled. They were charged at the time with misdemeanor interference with custody, which was bumped up to a felony in 1999. But the charge was dismissed in 2008 after the case went cold.

Investigators reopened the case in September 2012 when Richard Harter turned over the boy's Social Security card to an Indiana State Police detective. This turned up a man with the same Social Security number and date of birth living in Minnesota. Police said a driver's license photo for the man appeared to resemble Landers.

Indiana State Police then contacted Minnesota law enforcement agencies, which began investigating along with the FBI and the Social Security Administration.

The grandparents were found living in nearby Browerville, Minn.

"By all accounts, it didn't appear he suffered from any abuse, either physical or mental," Galaviz said.

Meanwhile, police declined to say whether the grandparents will face charges, citing the ongoing investigation.

  • Crimesider Staff

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