Missing Boy Allegedly Abducted in Custody Battle Found Hidden Behind Wall

September 8, 2009
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A boy allegedly abducted in a custody dispute nearly two years ago has turned up alive, hiding with his mother in a small, specially built secret room at his grandmother’s Illinois home, investigators said.

The boy’s mother, 30-year-old Shannon Wilfong, is charged with felony child abduction. The grandmother, 51-year-old Diane Dobbs, is charged with aiding and abetting. Wilfong remained jailed Saturday on $42,500 bond in Benton, Ill., where Dobbs was being held on $1,000 bond.

The boy was staying Saturday with one of his father’s relatives while state child-welfare workers investigated claims the father abused the child before his disappearance — allegations rejected by the dad (and found to be false by authorities at the time), who’s thrilled the agonizing search has ended.

“Two years? You have no idea,” Mike Chekevdia, a 48-year-old former police officer who’s a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard, told The Associated Press by telephone Saturday from his house in Royalton, Ill., some three miles from the home where his son turned up. “I’ve lost sleep. I’ve lost weight. I’ve gained weight. I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.”

Chekevdia won temporary custody of his son shortly before the boy and his mother — Chekevdia’s former girlfriend — disappeared in November 2007.

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