The following Department of Justice statistics from 2002, involve children who have not yet reached their 18th birthday as reported on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) website. According to the U.S. Department of Justice “800,000 children are reported missing every year, or an average of 2,185 children reported missing each day.” However, most of these children are found safely.
Of those 800,000, “more than 200,000 children were abducted by a family member” or someone living with the child under the same roof. An additional “58,000 children were abducted by non-family members” although not a family member the abductor is still known to the child and not a stranger.
Most parents’ nightmares are of strangers grabbing their precious child in the park or as he or she walks to school, yet the reality is in 2002 only “115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. Most children are abducted by a family member or acquaintance of the family and often the child is too young to realize what is happening and he or she may never realize they were abducted unless they are found or stumble across their own story online.
A missing child poster for Richard Landers on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) states “Richard was last seen with his grandparents, Richard E. Landers and Ruth Ann Landers.” A grainy photograph shows a smiling, blue eyed, brown haired little boy wearing a long sleeved gray and green sweatshirt. Born October 26, 1988, he went missing on July 29, 1994, from LaGrange, Indiana at the age of five.
The Indiana State Police website reports that “In September 2012, the boy’s step-father, Richard Harter contacted Indiana State Police Detective Deven Hostetler and provided him with the young Richard’s Social Security card.” As authorities researched the social security number, the received a hit showing it was active in Minnesota for a 24 year old man named Michael Jeff Landers.
Even the birthdate was the same, and soon police determined that Richard Landers and Michael Jeff Landers were one and the same person. Landers had legally changed his name in when he turned 18. Although, the circumstances surrounding the last 19 years of Richard Landers life remain vague, thanks to the advancements in technology a missing child has been located alive and well.