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Sunday, 6 September 2009

Abducted Child Boy, 6, missing for two years, is found alive with mother in hidden room at grandma's house in USA

Abducted Child Boy, 6, missing for two years, is found alive with mother in hidden room at grandma's house in USA
06th September 2009
A boy allegedly abducted in a custody dispute nearly two years ago has turned up alive, hiding with his mother in a small, specially built secret room at his grandmother's home.
Six-year-old Richard Chekevdia was in good spirits and physically fit after being found on Friday by investigators with a court order to search the two-story rural home in southern Illinois' Franklin County, about 120 miles southeast of St Louis.
The boy's mother, Shannon Wilfong, 30, has been charged with child abduction.

The grandmother, 51-year-old Diane Dobbs, has been charged with aiding and abetting.
The boy is now staying with one of his father's relatives while state child welfare workers investigate claims that Mike Chekevdia abused his son before his disappearance.

Mr Chekevdia, 48, a former police officer who is now a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard, denies the allegations.

On hearing his son had been found, he said: 'Two years? You have no idea. You could have knocked me over with a feather.'

Mr Chekevdia, who lives three miles from where his son was discovered, added: 'I've lost sleep. I've lost weight. I've gained weight. I wouldn't wish this on anybody.'

He won temporary custody of his son shortly before the boy and his mother - Chekevdia's former girlfriend - disappeared in November 2007.

Mr Chekevdia said he long suspected his son was being stowed by Dobbs, although there were no signs of the boy at her home when it was searched with her consent after his disappearance.
Wilfong was charged in December 2007 with abducting the boy but couldn't be found.

For much of the time since, Mr Chekevdia said, the windows of Dobbs' home were blocked off by drawn shades or other items, presumably to prevent anyone from peeking inside.

'I had a firm belief he was in there, and yesterday it was confirmed,' Mr Chekevdia said.
Investigators did not detail what led sheriff's deputies and federal marshals with a search warrant to Dobbs' house on Friday, when they found the boy and his mother in a hideaway roughly 5ft by 12ft and about the height of a washing machine.

'We let him out of the (patrol) car and he ran around like he'd never seen outdoors. It was actually very sad,' Illinois State Police Master Sgt Stan Diggs said.
'He was very happy to be outside. He said he never goes outside. Surprisingly, Ricky is in very good spirits.
'For someone who's been isolated in that house with no other outside beings, he's a very social, very polite, very talkative little boy.'
Dobbs, the grandmother, told a local newspaper last year that her daughter had been forced into hiding to keep the child from his father - and called the custody dispute a 'nightmare for all of us'.

Mr Chekevdia, eager to get his son back in school and to a dentist, said waiting for Ricky to resurface required patience.
'It's hard to sit back and watch things happen when you're used to making things happen,' said Chekevdia, a military officer who served in Iraq earlier this decade.
'But I just bided my time and let the system work.'
Wilfong remains in jail on a $42,500 bond in Benton, Illinois, where Dobbs is being held on a $1,000 bond.

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