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Boy missing for 19 yrs. found, gives hope to families of missing children

Richard Wayne Landers, Jr. when located, and before his abduction.
Richard Wayne Landers, Jr. when located, and before his abduction.

Nineteen years ago, five - year - old Richard Wayne Landers, Jr. was abducted and went missing. He has recently been found. This gives hope to those with missing children.

In July 1994, Landers was taken by his paternal grandparents, Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers at their home in Wolcottville, Indiana. The grandparents were upset over a court dispute regarding custody over the child. Landers’ father is reported to have never been a part of the boy’s life. His mother, Lisa Harter, reportedly lived in her car. The boy had lived with his grandparents since birth. That July morning, the grandparents had breakfast … and disappeared with Richard.

According to her attorney, Harter was not living in her car for a lengthy period of time. She has mild developmental disabilities and moved into a group home, then her own apartment. The Judge granted her custody on a trial basis, and this is when the grandparents fled.

Lisa Harter has recently married. She discovered her little boy is now 24 years old, married, and expecting his first child. He had a Facebook account and appears to have lived quietly, working in an auto parts store. He defends his grandparent’s actions.

The grandparents had changed the boy’s name and their own and moved to Long Prairie, Minnesota. They were charged with interfering with custody hearing, a felony, but the charge was dropped in 2008 for lack of evidence when the case went cold.

At 18 years of age, Landers legally changed his name to Michael Jeff Landers. Six years later, officials identified Michael Jeff as being Richard Wayne by tracing the social security number and birthdate.

The story can give hope to the thousands of family and friends of missing children, to include Tabitha Tuders’ Nashville family. Thirteen year old Tabitha was last seen walking to the school bus stop in east Nashville on April 29, 2003. Numerous leads, many rumors, and thousands of investigative hours have been invested in the case to no avail.

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