There are few things as deeply disturbing and fascinating as the cases of children who go missing, but are found many years later. It may seem hard to believe, but approximately 2,300 children and adults are reported missing in in the U.S. every day. It’s a horrifying and sad statistic, but history has shown that there is always hope! To find a missing person many years later is truly a miracle, as the loved ones of those who are kidnapped seldom receive this kind of happy news. These stories of found lost children prove you can never give up. It’s actually slightly more common to find missing children than you may think. We latch on to these stories with rabid fascination, because they are often the purest examples of the epitome of human strength, fortitude, and resilience. Still others happened under the oddest set of circumstances one can imagine– like a girl who hid out with her boyfriend for five years, or the guy who was just doing drugs while everyone assumed he’d been murdered by serial killer John Wayne Gacy. The experiences of found missing kids vary from wretched to wacky to WTF?!
Missing Boko Haram Victim Found After Two Years
Aboku Gaji, a leader in the task force, said, “When we arrived at the house… I asked the mother to come and identify someone. The moment she saw her, she shouted her name: ‘Amina, Amina!’ She gave her the biggest hug ever, as if they were going to roll on the ground, we had to stabilise them.”
Elijah Wong and Donnie Simmons Found Thanks to Traffic Stop
The two boys were taken into protective custody by Child Protective Services.
Xiao Yun Had Been Playing Games in Internet Cafes for 10 Years
She had left her home in Zhejiang, on of China’s eastern provinces, after a quarrel with her parents. Her family assumed she was dead, until police officers found her in an Internet cafe, using a fake ID card. She had been living on handouts from other cafe patrons and sometimes worked as a cashier at various cafes to earn extra income.
Julian Hernandez Was Missing for 13 Years
With the help of a school counselor, he found himself on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database. His father was charged with tampering with records.
Jaycee Lee Dugard Disappeared in 1991
UC Berkeley security officers conducted a background check on Garrido in August 2009, when he was seen acting strangely with two young girls whom he claimed were his daughters. When the review showed Garrido, in fact, had no children, investigators were called and search his home where Dugard and her meager living situation in his back yard were discovered. She was returned to her family in 2009. Garrido was sentenced to 431 years in prison, while his wife received 36 years to life.
Steven Stayner Was Kidnapped and Held Captive for Eight Years
As Steven grew, Parnell lost interest in him and kidnapped 5-year-old Timmy White. Once Timmy came into the house, Steven vowed to escape with Timmy and return him to his home in Ukiah, CA. One night, Steven and Timmy escaped, hitch hiking to Ukiah. There, the police picked up the boys. “I know my first name is Steven.” He told the police, although he could no longer recall what his last name was.
Kenneth Parnell was sentenced to only 5 years in prison. Steven Stayner returned to his family, but his father was unable to have a relationship with him due to the perception that he had of Steven’s assault. Stayner was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1989, when he was just 24 years old.
Steve Carter Solved His Own Missing Persons Case
Steve’s father had been looking for him for 30 years, after he was kidnapped by his biological mother as an infant. At the age of 4, she put him up for adoption in an orphanage, then disappeared without a trace. DNA confirmed that Steve Carter and Marx Panama Barnes were, indeed, the same person.
Source: Huffington Post
Elizabeth Smart Was Missing for Nine Months
Smart was recovered 9 months after she was taken. Mitchell and Barzee frequently took her into Salt Lake City to attend events, making her wear a veil and ordering her not to speak to anyone. Eventually, the strange behavior was noticed and investigators raided the Mitchel/Barzee home, finding Elizabeth there.
Mitchell was sentenced to two life terms for kidnapping and sexual assault, while Barzee got a 15 year sentence for aiding in the crime. Elizabeth Smart is now married and a contributor for ABC News.
Richard Wayne Landers Was Abducted and Found 19 Years Later
Landers defended his grandparents in a Facebook post, saying he was “where I needed to be.” He works at an auto parts store and is expecting a child with his wife.
Source: NY Daily News
Shawn Hornbeck Was Kidnapped in 2002
After Hornbeck was rescued, it was learned he had often been seen, albeit unrecognized, in public. He had a girlfriend, often walked around a local shopping mall and even spoke with a police officer when his bicycle was stolen. He even posted on a website his parents had set up regarding his kidnapping, asking how long they would continue to look for their son. He signed the post “Shawn Devlin.” Devlin kept Hornbeck in check through constant abuse, brainwashing and deception.
Devlin was stabbed and wounded while awaiting trial. He has since been sentenced to three life terms.
Source: Daily Journal Online
Danielle Cramer Was Hidden in a Cupboard for a Year
Source: Rayda Jacobs
Three Women Were Held Captive for Over a Decade by Ariel Castro
Neighbors rescued them after hearing Berry’s screams. Castro later committed suicide in prison.
Charlie Bothuell Was Located Safe After 11 Days
Charlie was very underweight when found, and there were signs of abuse. His father and stepmother have both been charged with torture and child abuse.
Source: Huffington Post
Gregory Jean Was Found Behind a Wall After Four Years
Source: The Guardian
Missing Autistic Boy Found After Four Days in the Wilderness
Shambrook was treated for dehydration, hypothermia, and exhaustion, but was reunited with his family. The acting Commander of the Victoria Police, Rick Nugent, said Luke’s resilience was “absolutely amazing.”
“An 11-year-old boy, challenged as he is with his autism, he’s a courageous, resilient, strong young man,” he said.
Natasha Ryan Was Missing for Five Years and Assumed Dead
In reality, Natasha was just hiding out at her older boyfriend’s house… for five years. She had been forbidden from seeing him, and decided to go against her mother and shack up with him. When folks thought that she had befallen to a terrible fate, it served her purposes as no one would be looking for her if they thought she was dead.
Her mother was understandably furious that her daughter had allowed her to believe she had been murdered, the two have since reconciled. Ryan married her boyfriend in 2008.
Source: The Age
Carlina White Was Stolen as a Baby and Located 23 Years Later
The Carlina White case represents the longest known gap in a non-parental abduction where the victim was reunited with the family in the United States. Anne Pettaway, the woman who had abducted White and raised her as her own, was sentenced to 12 years in jail on federal kidnapping charges.
Source: NY Mag
Girl Missing Since 2004 Found Alive in Mexico
McCallister was able to return to the U.S in 2014, after confessing who she was to an American missionary in the town where she was living. She was then able to make contact with her family after 10 years, and eventually returned home.
Tanya Kach Was Missing for a Decade
He then created a new identity for Tanya, and introduced her to his parents as his girlfriend who would be moving in with them. She was then able to leave the house with a strict curfew, but it took her another six years to escape with the help of a local grocery store owner. Hose plead guilty to kidnapping and sexual abuse, and was convicted to five to 15 years in prison.
A Man Thought to Be the Victim of John Wayne Gacy Found Alive 41 Years Later
Hutton said he had gotten caught up in the “lifestyle of the 70s” and had tried to contact his family in the ’80s and ’90s but had trouble tracking them down. Strangely enough, Hutton isn’t the only presumed victim of Gacy to be found alive. Five more missing men thought to have been killed by Gacy have also been located unharmed 40-plus years later.
Source: Chicago Tribune