A 13-year-old Florida boy has been found and reunited with his mother after being missing for the past four years. He was found in the wee hours of Saturday morning, hidden in a small space behind a fake wall in a linen closet in his father’s home in Clayton County, Georgia.
Five people lived in the home, and all five were arrested on charges of false imprisonment, cruelty to children, and obstruction, three of which were minors, themselves.
According to Clayton County police Sgt. Kevin Hughes, local officers visited the home near Jonesboro, on Duke Court, around 11 p.m. Friday night, attempting to check on the welfare of the child. The mother informed authorities of the child’s whereabouts after receiving a text from the child who had downloaded a phone app to do so. Though the mother had informed child welfare authorities in the past, she had never brought the abduction of the child to the attention of law enforcement due to being an immigrant who was unfamiliar with the American justice system. The father had simply failed to return the child in 2010, after the boy had come for a visit.
Upon initial arrival, responding officers made contact with several occupants at the location who denied having knowledge of any information concerning the victim. After a brief search of the premises, the officers left without locating the victim.
However, around 2 a.m. later that night, a second call was made to police, prompting them to visit the home again.
While at the location during the second call, the victim was able to establish phone contact with his mother and she in turn passed on additional information to the officers on the scene. The victim was found behind a false wall within the residence.
Clayton County Police Sgt. Joanne Sutherland stated:
We opened the compartment area where he was and I saw him and asked him to come forward. He was horrified. He was frozen with fear.
The boy’s 37-year-old father, Gregory Jean, was among the five arrested at the home, as well as 42-year-old Samantha Joy Davis. Neighbors stated that they would see the boy from time to time playing in the yard, or performing various types of yard work.
The boy, whose name has not been released, was reunited with his mother late Saturday morning at the Clayton County police headquarters after his mother arrived from Florida. However, due to numerous unanswered questions regarding custody and why authorities were not brought in on the matter earlier, the child will most likely stay with the Division of Family and Children Services for the time being in order to ensure the safety of the child.
According to police, the boy was very happy to be reunited with his mother and thanked the authorities repeatedly.