A Missing Boy Found Behind A False Wall In Atlanta After 4 Years Is The Most Heartwarming Story Of The Holidays
In what is surely the most heartwarming story of the holiday season, a 13-year-old boy, found behind a false wall in an Atlanta home, has been reunited with his mother after going missing four years ago. The case was first reported to child welfare in 2010 when the teen disappeared after visiting his father in Florida. Apparently, his mother never brought the police force into the situation, and never filed a missing person's report, at least not in Clayton County, Georgia, where the boy was ultimately found. He was discovered on Saturday after he managed to obtain a phone and call his mother, who then alerted police.
Police initially searched the premises on Friday, but found no traces of the teenager despite a request to perform a welfare check. Clatyon County police Sgt. Kevin Hughes said in a statement, "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."
Luckily, for some unknown reason, the authorities returned a short time later, and during this visit, the boy was able to contact his mother, who then told law enforcement officials to look behind a fake wall, concealed with towels. Hughes noted, "They discovered him hidden behind a false wall in the interior portion of the home." According to local news station WXIA, the boy's father, Gregory Jean, 37, and his stepmother, Samantha Joy Davis, 42, have been arrested and charged with false imprisonment, cruelty to children and obstruction. Three others have also been taken into custody in connection to the kidnapping, but are all juveniles.
Neighbors have expressed their surprise at the discovery of the young boy behind the false wall, telling news stations that they never would have suspected Jean or Davis of any sort of foul play. The couple moved into the neighborhood around six months ago, and were described as sweet and normal individuals. Julie Pizarro, who lives across the street from the two, told WXIA, "They were really nice people, very open, they said come over anytime you want."
The teen's captors did not seem to make any attempt to keep him hidden, as many of their neighbors reported seeing the boy from time to time, but never thought he was in any sort of trouble. Said Pizarro, "The young man didn't seem under any distress. I guess you never know what's behind closed doors." The 13-year-old did not appear to attend school and was instead constantly seen around the house doing various chores, like tending to the yard. "You can see the yard is immaculate," Pizarro added. "The boy kept it that way."
Another neighbor, Akono Ekundayo, echoed these sentiments to WXIA, saying, "Gosh, it was right under our nose. We could have done something. But he was never in distress, it didn't seem like." Both he and his wife, Ekundayo said, saw the child nearly every day in the neighborhood, but were unaware of the circumstances surrounding his presence. Neither Pizarro nor Ekundayo ever thought much of the teenager's constant presence, attributing it to homeschooling or his parents' desire to keep him close. "We just thought that they liked to keep to themselves," Pizarro said.
Happily, the 13-year-old was found in good health, physically, and was joyously returned to the loving embrace of his mother on Saturday morning, who came to Georgia from out of state to meet her son. However, according to some reports, the teen will have to stay in custody of the Division of Family and Children Services while police continue their investigation into the kidnapping. Several questions remain as to why the boy's mother never reported her son's disappearance to the police, though the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that this may be "because she’s an immigrant unfamiliar with the system." It is also unclear as to who had legal custody of the boy when he went missing.
Online records show that the boy's father is currently being held in Clayton County Jail without bail, and police have suggested that both Jean and Davis "could face more criminal charges as the investigation unfolds." It has not yet been determined whether either of the two parties have obtained lawyers to represent them in what seems to be the beginning of a bizarre custody battle.
Regardless, it is a relief that the 13-year-old has ended his era of hiding behind a false wall in a suburban Atlanta home, and luckier still that he had the foresight to give his mother a tip about his whereabouts. While details about the case are still emerging, this is one family reunion that has been delayed for far too long.
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