Happy news out of the state of Florida as 9-year-old Joshua Graham, who was reported missing from his home in Texas back in 2017, was found safe.
Officers discovered the missing juvenile after responding to reports of a suspicious vehicle near San Juan Avenue in Sanford, Florida. The young boy was in the vehicle with his noncustodial father, Kenneth Graham. Local news outlet Orlando Sentinel reports the father left the state of Texas with his son two years ago without telling his mother, Yolanda Graham Phoner, beforehand.
According to 8News, Yolanda told police she came home to find a note from her ex-husband explaining that he decided to take Joshua to go visit his grandparents in Florida.
“I felt like I would never see Joshua again and my daughters would never see their brother again,” she revealed to reporters.
According to WFTV 9, Joshua’s mother was awarded sole custody of her son in February of 2018. After months of badgering authorities to help her find her son, he was reported as a missing person on March 26, 2018. His missing person’s report included the status of being abducted by his noncustodial father.
Investigators believed the 52-year-old took his son and returned to Tallahassee, Florida, where he had lived prior to living in Texas, based on the note he had left Yolanda.
“Regardless of the circumstances, the feelings of loss and devastation are indescribable when any child is taken from a parent. The officers and investigators involved in this case are delighted to have played a significant role in reuniting this mother with her child after two long years. I am proud that the officers responding to this call quickly identified that something didn’t seem right, and those instincts led to this happy conclusion,” Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said during a press release following the discovery of the boy, as he praised the responding officers for their actions.
Yolando told reporters she felt like she was “dreaming” when she received a call that authorities had located her son.
“I just never thought that it would happen so quickly because my family and we’ve been through so much,” she added.
Officers who responded to the scene confirmed Joshua was placed under the care of Child Protective Services until he could be reunited with his mother. Sanford police also confirmed there is a chance the state of Texas may press criminal charges against the father.
Investigators have requested that anyone with information regarding the noncustodial father and the boy’s time together to contact the Sanford Police Department.