An 8-year-old boy who disappeared in Texas in 2004 has been found after police arrested his former babysitter on charges of kidnapping him.
Miguel Morin will be reunited with his mother, Auboni Champion-Morin, possibly later this week, pending a DNA test, a Houston television station reported on Wednesday.
Champion-Morin, of Houston, says she never gave up hope that she would find her child.
"I prayed every night that he was safe, loved and he would come home one day," Champion-Morin told the Texas station.
The sitter, Krystle Rochelle Tanner, 26, was arrested on felony kidnapping charges Monday, according to MSNBC, and remained jailed without bond in San Augustine, about 200 miles southeast of Fort Worth.
Late last summer, authorities got a break in the case after child welfare investigators in San Augustine County received a complaint that Tanner and her boyfriend were neglecting their two children, Cunningham said.
Officials tried to find the older boy, who turned out to be Morin, though Tanner told authorities conflicting stories about him—he used different names, and Tanner claimed she had been keeping him for a woman she had met in a park, Cunningham said.
Despite the fact that law enforcement had no record that Morin had gone missing because his name had been removed from the national missing children's database, they began investigating it as a missing child's cased in January.
"It was very difficult because we were essentially searching for a ghost," Cunningham told AP.
Child Protective Services recently learned about the kidnapping, which led to Monday's arrest of Tanner, whose relative led authorities to the boy. Tanner's relative claimed no knowledge of the kidnapping, Cunningham said.
Cunningham did not know if anyone else will be arrested.
"I want to hold him in my arms and let him know who I am," Champion-Morin told the Houston television station. "I hope he can feel the same thing I feel for him."
Cunningham told AP that the boy has seemingly never gone to school, and one of the names Tanner called him was "Dirty." He also said that the family will likely go through some counseling.
- Gary Cunningham