A six-year-old boy missing for five months has been found safe after he was hidden in an attic crawl space at the home of his mother and her boyfriend.
Authorities said Braedence Jones was found Tuesday in the crawl space with his mother, Aubrey Ferguson, at a home in rural LaClede County, in southwest Missouri.
Ferguson’s boyfriend, Woodrow Ziegler, had nailed the entrance of the crawl space shut, put carpet over it and pushed furniture against it before officers from the US Marshall’s service and Laclede County arrived with a search warrant after receiving a tip.
The boy was reunited with his father, Ryan Jones, who reported Braedence missing on August 3 when his mother took off rather than returning the boy after a week-long visit.
“He seems to be physically OK,” Camden County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Arlyne Page said.
“But since his abduction, the mother hasn’t allowed him to go to school and more than likely has not taken him to a doctor if he needed one. We are hoping to help his father find counselling for him.”
A probable cause statement said that when the father went to the home on August 12 to pick up Braedence, no one was there. The house next door where Ferguson’s parents live also was empty.
Mr Jones said Ferguson told him in text messages the boy was safe but would not say where he was, according to the affidavit.
He said Ferguson turned off her phone between texts so she could not receive calls.
Since then, law enforcement officials received several tips both in the region and out of state.
Surveillance footage from stores confirmed the boy was with his mother and pings from her phone indicated they were moving around to elude capture, she said.
The US Marshal Service’s Violent Fugitive Task Force began assisting in the search several weeks ago and finally received reliable information on the boy on Tuesday, Lieutenant Page said.
Ferguson and her boyfriend were both arrested and charges are now being pursued.