Kendallville, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - After his 5-year old son vanished almost two decades ago, a Northeast Indiana father shares his joy in learning the now young man is alive and well.
"I've not ever forgotten," said Richard Landers Sr., the missing boy's father.
Richard Wayne Landers Jr. disappeared in July 1994. Indiana State Police say his grandparents took him and took themselves off the map.
"It's hard to explain, it's like losing someone to death. Police tell you, they just vanished, and we've tried to find him and can't find him, and what do you do,” said Landers.
His father says in the early 90s he and the boy's mother were struggling financially. They wound up in a shelter and that's when his parents took in their son. But what ensued was a brutal custody battle.
"It's been said that I was not in his life, said that I was an absentee father,” said Landers.
Prior to 1994 Richard Wayne Landers Jr. lived in Kendallville with his grandparents. His father had visitation with him but one day when his father went to pick him up no one showed. Police tried to track down the grandparents and the boy but could never find them.
"We always just kept it in the back of our minds that we believed we was going to see him again,” said Landers.
The now 24 year-old goes by Michael Jeff Iddings and lives in a rural Minnesota town, near his grandparents.
Richard and Ruth Landers, the grandparents, were charged with a felony for interference with the custody of a child. Those charges were dropped years later because of the time lapse. The two now go by the names Raymond Michael Iddings and Susan Kay Iddings.
"Until I actually get to walk up and say hello to him again, I don't know that it's going to be real. I don't know how he feels about me so that's going to be the big question, you know, whether he wants to see me, is he angry with me,” said Landers.
Landers always assumed his parents abducted his son, since they kept asking him to sign adoption papers but he refused. He says he can't forget what happened but he does forgive his parents and simply looks forward to reconnecting with his son.
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