For the mother of Richard Wayne Landers, Jr., the last 19 years have been difficult, stressful, and painful. She has spent all that time wondering where her son is, who disappeared from Indiana in 1994 along with his paternal grandparents after a custody ruling.
The boy was found, unharmed and seemingly healthy, living under a different name in Minnesota. Now 24, the man was found using his Social Security number, which remained unchanged. According to Fox News, his overjoyed mother was "jumping up and down" with glee when she heard the news that there was finally a break in the case.
The case is bizarre and mysterious. Unlike so many abduction stories, this one has a happy ending -- thank goodness -- but it also leaves so many questions: Why did the grandparents feel compelled to do this?
At first glance, they seem evil and sick and wrong. Certainly taking a child from his mother at the age of 5 and never letting her see him in all those years is horrendous. It's a crime. They should be charged.
But having seen so many friends be completely screwed by the family court system in the US, I have to wonder if there is more to the story. Is it possible that these grandparents were being squeezed out somehow or felt that their grandson was in more danger if they did NOT take him than if they did?
It's an impossible situation sometimes and, without the facts, we can't say what went down. Were these grandparents protecting the child? Or did they feel they were? And if they did: Does that make their crime less egregious?
There are plenty of times people commit crimes for reasons they think are truly justified. Should the reason they commit them be taken into consideration even though the end result is the same: a mother waits 19 years to find out what happened to her son and missed nearly two decades of raising him?
It's hard to say and I don't know enough about this case in particular to comment. But I do know that if a person commits a crime -- like stealing food to feed his hungry family -- it's different than a person who robs a bank to buy a diamond ring.
Should that be taken into consideration in a court of law? I am not sure. But it sounds to me like these grandparents loved their grandson and didn't physically harm him. So then what?
Whatever the case the mother can now get to know her son. My heart goes out to her. I can't even imagine the agony she has been through.
Do you think the reason for committing a crime matters?
Image via MegaBu7/Flickr