A Missouri boy has been found hidden in an attic five months after his father reported him missing, authorities said.
The search for Braedence Jones, 6, began in August when the little boy disappeared during a visit with his mother, Aubrey Ferguson, the Camden County Sheriff’s office said.
Braedence’s father, Ryan Jones, who has court-ordered custody, was unable to find the little boy or Ferguson when he arrived to pick up his son following what should have been a week-long visit.
Ferguson allegedly texted Jones that Braedence was safe, but would not say where she was, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the Associated Press. Jones said Ferguson turned off her phone between texts so she could not receive calls.
Surveillance footage from stores showed the boy was with his mother and authorities were able to ping her phone to determine they were moving around to elude capture, Camden County Sheriff’s Lt. Arlyne Page told the AP.
Law enforcement spent five months looking for the child, and on Tuesday, detectives acting on a tip received by the United States Marshals Service searched a home south of Camdenton in rural LaClede County, police said.
Braedence was found hidden in a crawl space in the attic of the home, authorities said.
“Ferguson was with the child in the crawl space when discovered,” the Camden County Sheriff’s office said.
Ferguson’s boyfriend, Woodrow Ziegler, had nailed the entrance of the crawl space shut, put carpet over it and pushed furniture against it before officials discovered it, police said. It was not immediately clear how authorities found the space.
Ferguson was arrested and held on two warrants, one of which was for child abduction. Ziegler, who is a convicted felon and was court-ordered to not be around Braedence, was also taken into custody. Additional charges against both of them are being considered.
Authorities said relatives were believed to have helped the couple move while they kept Braedence from his father. Anyone who is found to have assisted the pair may also face charges.
Braedence was discovered alive and well.
He appeared to be physically fine, but police plan to assist his father in finding counseling for the little boy.
Braedence and his father were reunited Tuesday.
“OUR LITTLE BOY IS HOME,” Jones' girlfriend wrote on Facebook. “GOD IS SOOOO GOOD!!!!”