9:56 AM EST, December 12, 2012
A mother and son reunite after two decades apart.
Elizabeth Watkins and her son, Alex, haven't seen each other in almost 20 years, and you'll never believe why.
All that time, Alex thought his mom had murdered his little brother.
In 1987, six-year-old Nicholas Loris was found dead in the woods near his home outside Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Nicholas' little body was found down a ravine. The coroner would rule that he died as a result of being beaten and strangulation. And for reasons his mother still doesn't know to this day, she became the prime suspect.
“I had the sheriff's department pointing their finger at me, being very suspicious of me. Also the Department of Social Services,” said Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was never charged, but she lost custody of her older son Alex. He went to live with his grandmother, and turned his back on his mom.
"I was angry. That's exactly how I felt. I was very angry," said Alex.
Trent asked Elizabeth, “Did you ever think that you would never see your son again?”
“I knew that was a possibility if my son's death was never solved, and the truth come out that I did not kill him,” said Elizabeth.
It took 20 years for the truth to come out. Investigators took another look at the cold case, and now say Nicholas was choked by his t-shirt as a marauding pack of dogs dragged him into the woods.
The coroner's original finding that the death was a homicide has now been officially reclassified as "due to a dog attack."
The case reminds many of the famous movie, A Cry in the Dark, for which Meryl Streep received an Oscar® nomination.
It was based on the true story of a mother in Australia who was falsely accused of murdering her child. She was exonerated when officials ruled the baby was actually killed by a wild dog, or dingo.
Trent asked, “You never saw your son for 18 years? Birthdays? Christmases?” said Trent.
“None. It was always an empty hole in my heart,” said Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Alex are now busy making up for lost time, spending every possible moment together. And even though they were apart for so long, that mother/son bond was never broken.
“As soon as we embraced, there was an instant connection. A mother's love never waivers,” said Elizabeth.