LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. — A 24-year-old man discovered living in Minnesota under an assumed name was abducted by his paternal grandparents nearly two decades ago when his unemployed mother was living in a car in Indiana, authorities said Friday.
The grandparents could face federal charges in the case, a Minnesota sheriff said.
Richard Wayne Landers Jr. now lives in the small northern Minnesota town of Long Prairie under the name Michael Jeff Landers, the Todd County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. Indiana State Police announced that Landers had been found on Thursday.
Landers had lived with his grandparents since birth. But in July 1994, after a dispute between Landers’ mother and the grandparents over his custody, the grandparents took him from their home in Wolcottville, about 50 miles southeast of South Bend, and fled.
‘‘I’m not sure that [the grandparents] ever had legal custody,’’ said John R. Russell, who spent several months investigating Landers’ disappearance in 1994 when he was a road deputy for the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department.
The then-5-year-old boy’s mother and stepfather were unemployed and lived in a car, Russell recalled. The grandparents “were nice people. It was wrong for them to do it, but I can understand why,’’ he said.