Sometimes a person’s life can change 180 degrees from one moment to the next and everything you thought was true is called into question. Maybe it’s happened to you. It’s exactly what happened to 24-year-old Michael Jeff Landers of Minnesota one recent winter day when someone knocked at his door.
He opened it to find police officers looking back at him. They weren’t there to arrest him though, they had come to tell him who he really was. 19 years previously, five-year-old Richard Landers Jr. had been reported missing. And now, with another name and no idea he’d ever been kidnapped, he was found.
To understand the story, you have to go back in time to 1994: Richard’s parents were getting a very acrimonious divorce. Because of the fighting and his mother’s dire circumstances (she was living in a car at the time), the custody battle was particularly difficult to resolve. So his grandparents decided to intervene. They picked up the child and disappeared without a trace.
Now it turns out they actually drove nearly 700 miles from Indiana to Minnesota, changed all their names, and started a new life. We have to assume they didn’t get along with their own child, Richard’s parent, very well to be willing to do that! But the one thing they forgot to change was the child’s social security number. And 19 years later, that’s how police were able to track him down.
In the meantime, Richard — now Michael — had grown up, gotten married, and was expecting a child of his own. You can only imagine his confusion at learning that his grandparents, who had always treated him well, had kidnapped him. Not to mention that his real parents were out there, suffering and wondering what had happened to their little boy.
Now his parents are apparently overwhelmed with emotion and shock to find out that their son had been discovered alive, and not all that far away.
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