NEWS

Two Years After This Mother And Son Went Missing The Police Discovered A Hidden Wall In Grandma's House

by Elana

Research suggests that today's married couples are getting divorced at a rate of somewhere between a whopping 40-50%. It's safe to say that divorce is common these days so as a society we have a tendency not to indulge too much in the stories of the people involved. For many, it's just another day. For others, it is endless tragedy and hardship.

Too often the individuals who suffer the most are the children involved. Co-parenting from separate homes can be difficult, especially trying to raise a child with someone you fundamentally cannot spend your life with. For others yet, co-parenting is practically impossible. 

For all the stories you've probably heard by now over the years about parents divorcing, this one is truly one of the most heartbreaking.

Meet Michael Chekevdia and Shannon Wilfong.

Meet Michael Chekevdia and Shannon Wilfong.
The pair separated in 2007 but for their then 4 year-old son, Richard, the nightmare was only beginning. And the consequences would last a lifetime.
via: Tenor
A particularly brutal custody battle raged over Richard but in the end not even Wilfong's claims that Chekevdia was abusive prevented Chekevdia from gaining full custody of Richard.
Not to be put in her place by the courts, Wilfong took matters into her own hands and fled her Illinois home with Richard in hand.
Chekevdia immediately filed a missing persons report but his heart sank, fearing that he would never see his son again. And it's hard to hold on to hope when the police search for your son for two years and repeatedly turn up empty handed. Weirdly, the home of Richard's maternal grandmother had long been suspected to be Wilfong's hiding place but every attempt to locate the pair or even Richard in the house was unsuccessful.
Then, an anonymous tip in 2009, two years after Richard disappeared, the police found themselves yet again at Richard's grandmother's house. But this time, they found something completely unexpected. It was a secret room behind a wall.
via: Giphy
Diane Dobbs (Richard's grandmother) had a room behind a crawlspace. Barely a room. Yet curled up in that tiny space was Shannon Wilfong and little Richard.
via: Giphy
The pair was alive, but not doing so well. The frail and pale appearances suggested that Richard had not seen the light of day in the years he had been missing. He certainly had spent the entire two years receiving no education and appeared to have not received medical care in quite some time.

Sergeant Stan Diggs told ABC News what the moment was like:

We let him out of the car and he ran around like he’d never seen the outdoors. It was actually very sad.

Allegedly, going all the way back to 2007, Shannon Wilfong was hiding Richard in Dobbs's home. Anytime she had company, she would hide the boy in the crawlspace and then only let him out at night.
via: Tenor
It continued to get worse. Dobbs's home featured heavy, dark shades and blocked out windows. Richard appeared to have very little, if any, contact with other children his age. To even be reunited with his father he had to undergo extensive therapy.
Dobbs and Wilfong were both arrested and they both plead guilty to the charges laid against them when they went before a judge in a court of law in 2011.
Astonishingly, neither woman spent much time in jail. Dobbs a whopping 12 days and Wilfong a whole month. They both also paid fines and Wilfong spent two years on probation.
via: Giphy
Despite everything and all the time spent waiting, Chekevdia was elated to learn that his son Richard was found alive. It wasn't easy but he waited patiently for both the police to complete their investigation and for Richard to undergo extensive counseling. In the end, he finally resumed custody of Richard.
via: Giphy
Shannon Wilfong continued to accuse Chekevdia of abuse and at one point demanded that he undergo a polygraph! Never the less, Chekevdia continued to deny the brutal accusations and investigators simply could not substantiate her claims. And thankfully today, Richard and his father live a pretty normal life.
Life outside his grandmother's crawlspace, Richard has a supportive father and is currently an active swimmer and rock climber!

To this day, however, Dobbs insists that Richard was not  kept in a crawlspace 24/7 for 2 years straight. In fact, in an interview with Good Morning America she insisted that the boy was only placed in the crawl space when investigators were poking around and that he was not only home-schooled but taken out on fishing trips. 

Despite her insistence, an investigator for child welfare services found little to back this up. Richard had a speech impediment,  limited reading skills, and was socially behind.

Check out the full interview with Diane Dobbs here:

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