A 6-year-old boy who was missing for five months was discovered safe in an attic crawl space at the home of his mother and her boyfriend.
Authorities said Braedence Jones was found Tuesday in the crawl space with his mother, Aubrey Ferguson, at a home in rural Laclede County, in southwest Missouri.
Ferguson’s boyfriend, Woodrow Ziegler, allegedly had nailed the entrance of the crawl space shut, covered it with carpet and pushed furniture against it before officers from the U.S. Marshal Service and Laclede County, who had received a tip, arrived with a search warrant.
The boy was reunited with his father, Ryan Jones, who reported Braedence missing Aug. 3, when he didn’t return home from a weeklong visit with his mother.
“He seems to be physically OK,” said Camden County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Arlyne Page. “But since his abduction, the mother hasn’t allowed him to go to school and more than likely has not taken him to a doctor if he needed one. We are hoping to help his father find counseling for him.”
A probable cause statement said no one was at Ferguson’s house on Aug. 12, when Jones went there to look for Braedence. The house next door, where her parents live, was also empty.
Jones said Ferguson told him in text messages that Braedence was safe but would not say where he was, according to the affidavit. He said Ferguson turned off her phone between texts so she could not receive calls.
Law enforcement officials had received several tips in the area and from out of state.
Surveillance footage from stores confirmed that Braedence was with his mother, and pings from her phone indicated that they were moving around to elude capture, according to officials.
The U.S. Marshal Service’s Violent Fugitive Task Force began assisting in the search several weeks ago and finally received reliable information Tuesday, according to Page.
Ferguson and Ziegler were arrested shortly after, and charges are being drawn up.
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