Abducted by Grandparents: The Richard Wayne Landers Jr. Story Resurfaces After Two Decades

Richard Wayne Landers Jr. found alive after 19 years is now married and has children of his own

Megan Ashley


Richard Wayne Landers Jr. (Source)

Richard Wayne Landers Jr. was only five years old when he was abducted in 1994 from Wolcottville, Indiana, by his paternal grandparents.

Landers Jr. appears to have always lived with his grandparents, along with his parents, but when the two split up, Landers Jr. was the subject of a long and bitter custody battle.

Ultimately, temporary full custody was awarded to his mother, Lisa Harter. There are reports that Harter had been homeless, but at the time of the final custody hearing, she had secured an apartment and was equipped to take custody and care for her son. However, the grandparents disagreed, and they took off the morning they had been mandated to hand over Landers Jr.

For two decades, the case had sat cold, with neither Richard Landers Sr. nor Harter having contact with their son. The grandparents, Richard and Ruth Landers, had a warrant out for their arrest for the abduction, but they weren’t heard from for years.

Over the years, his parents never lost hope of finding their son. His pictures were sent out locally and nationally multiple times throughout the years, and the charges against the grandparents were elevated.

On the 20th anniversary of the abduction, the cold case was reopened, and law enforcement obtained Richard’s social security card. It was discovered that a man in Minnesota was using the number with a different name but the same age and birthday.

Only weeks after the anniversary, a twenty-four-year-old man was identified as Richard Lander Jr., now married, with his own children.

The grandparents were also found living in Browerville, and they had been living under assumed names. Upon their arrest, they confessed to being Richard and Ruth Lander.

It appears that Landers Jr. was, or at least is now, fully aware of the situation and has forgiven his grandparents. He believes that they had the best intentions for him and believes what they did was right for him. The grandparents were not charged, as the original charges were dropped in 2008.

The community the three settled in was shocked by the news and stated the family kept to themselves mostly and were quiet.

Both of the parents of Landers Jr. have made contact with their son and are working towards moving forward with cultivating a relationship. The father has also told the media he forgives his parents and is just grateful his son is alive and well, and he has an opportunity to get to know him.

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Sources: National Post , NBC News