Police in a Georgia town found a missing 13-year-old boy behind a false wall inside a home, and made five arrests including the boy’s father, authorities said on Saturday.
WSB-TV in Atlanta said that in 2010 the father refused to return the boy to his mother in Florida after he came to Georgia for a visit.
Police in Clayton County say the child's father was hiding the boy in his house. The boy was found early Saturday hidden behind a fake wall in a linen closet.
MyFoxAtlanta reported that the teen and his mother were reunited at the Clayton County police headquarters. The station quoted authorities as saying she reported the boy missing to child welfare authorities but not to police, possibly because she is an immigrant and unfamiliar with the necessary procedures.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution identified the boy’s father as Gregory Jean, 37. They said he was taken into custody as was another adult, Samantha Joy Davis, 42. They faced charges of false imprisonment, obstruction of justice and cruelty to children. Also arrested were three juveniles.
Jean and Davis appeared in court Sunday morning, but the judge denied bond for both, MyFoxAtlanta reports.
Police told WSB-TV how they found the child.
“We opened the compartment area where he was and I saw him and asked him to come forward,” Clayton County Police Sgt. Joanne Sutherland told the station. “He was horrified. He was frozen with fear.”
The boy had recently texted his mother after downloading a phone app. She then called the police.
Sutherland told WSB-TV that police went to the home about 11 p.m. Friday on a child abuse complaint about the boy. She said Jean and Davis denied knowing anything about the child or where he was. At 2 a.m. Saturday police got a second call about the boy and returned to the house.
Police said the boy repeatedly thanked the officers who found him. Georgia child welfare workers will likely take custody of the boy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.