Boy Behind Wall Texted Mom to Help Police Find Him

13-year-old missing for 4 years was found 'where no person should be'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2014 8:48 AM CST
Boy Behind Wall Texted Mom to Help Police Find Him
A 13-year-old boy who went missing four years ago was discovered alive, hidden behind a fake wall in a home near Atlanta.   (Tasha Ward)

"Thank you. Thank you." Those were the first words Gregory Jean Jr. spoke to police on Saturday when they peeled back a wood panel in an upstairs closet and found him crammed in the space between the garage and attic, WXIA reports. But the officers had help from Gregory himself, because it was the texts and photos he sent to his mom that helped police track down where the missing 13-year-old was hidden in his father and stepmother's house, the AP reports. And although Gregory Jean Sr., 37, and Samantha Joy Davis, 42, didn't bar police from searching the home, "there was a lot of deception," Clayton County Police Sgt. Joanne Southerland told reporters, as per CNN. In fact, the first officers on the scene—sent after a 911 call from the boy's mother—came up empty-handed and left after Jean and Davis said they knew nothing.

After the police left, young Gregory contacted his mom again through the magicJack app and she redialed 911; when Southerland, who had worked in a Crimes Against Children unit for several years, heard that call, she made police go back and search again. "We weren't going to leave until we found him," she tells WXIA. The space Gregory was crammed into had nothing but wooden beams and insulation—"a space where no person should be living," the local police chief told reporters. The next court appearance for Jean and Davis, who have been charged with false imprisonment, child cruelty, and obstruction of justice, is scheduled for Dec. 9, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. (A girl missing for 12 years was recently found in Mexico.)

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