Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Police News

January 12, 2013

Police officer says child's mother lived in car

Details emerge in case of LaGrange County missing boy

CLARISSA, Minn. — In 2006, an 18-year-old Minnesota man legally changed his name to Michael Jeff Landers. Six years later, authorities determined Landers was really the Indiana child who had been abducted by his paternal grandparents in 1994.

Richard Wayne Landers Jr., was reportedly abducted when he was 5 years old. The 24-year-old Michael Landers now lives in the small central Minnesota town of Browerville, the Todd County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

Sheriff Peter Mikkelson said the investigation is ongoing and the case will be forwarded to federal authorities for possible charges.

It’s unclear what Landers knew about his history, but authorities said he had lived with his grandparents since birth.

According to court records, Landers applied for the name change himself in November 2006, just a couple weeks after he turned 18. The application doesn’t say why he requested the change, and it wasn’t immediately clear how long he had used the name Michael.

A home phone number for Landers could not be found. Telephone and social networking messages left with him and his wife were not immediately returned.

In July 1994, after a custody dispute between Landers’ mother and the grandparents, the grandparents fled from Wolcottville, Ind.,

“I’m not sure that they (the grandparents) ever had legal custody,” said John R. Russell, who spent several months investigating the disappearance with the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department.

The mother and stepfather were unemployed and lived in a car, recalled the now-retired Russell.

“These people (the grandparents) were nice people. It was wrong for them to do it, but I can understand why,” he said. “But I also didn’t think the child would be in any danger at all with them.”

Landers’ stepfather, Richard Harter, did not respond to phone calls Friday. A phone number for Landers’ mother, Lisa Harter, could not be located. Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Ron Galaviz said it appears Landers’ father was never in the picture.

Indiana attorney Richard Muntz has worked with Lisa Harter in her 19-year search and told the Star Tribune that child welfare services stepped in because she has some developmental disabilities and the grandparents had temporary custody.

Muntz said after a judge granted Harter custody for a trial period, the grandparents took $5,000 out of a home equity line and left town.

The grandparents were charged with misdemeanor interference with custody, which was bumped up to a felony in 1999. But the charge was dismissed in 2008 after the case went cold.

Investigators reopened the case in September when Richard Harter turned over Landers’ Social Security card to an Indiana State Police detective. That turned up a man with the same Social Security number and birthday with an address in Long Prairie, about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Indiana State Police then contacted Minnesota law enforcement agencies, which began investigating along with the FBI and the Social Security Administration.

Minnesota officials say the grandparents — now living in Browerville under the assumed names Raymond Michael Iddings and Susan Kay Iddings — verified Landers’ identity. They were known as Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers at the time of the abduction.

A woman who answered a phone number associated with the Iddingses declined a request for an interview. A couple who answered the door at their home declined to identify themselves and also refused an interview.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minnesota, Jeanne Cooney, said charges in such a case could be related to non-custodial kidnapping, whether the child was exploited, abused, trafficked or being used to obtain benefits.

Michael Landers and his wife, who police say are expecting a child, share a plot of land with his grandparents a few miles outside of Browerville. There are two houses and two deteriorating barns on the property, and a few toys were scattered in front of one of the houses Friday. Ten cars sat in the shared driveway.

Landers works at an auto parts store in Long Prairie, but wasn’t at the store Friday and an employee declined an interview.

Raymond Iddings has worked since 1999 as a herdsman at Twin Eagle Dairy in nearby Clarissa, where owner Patrick Lunemann described him as a “dedicated, faithful” employee. Lunemann said he was in shock when he read a story about the case.

He said Iddings plays guitar at his church, and recalled a day last summer when the couple brought their instruments to play for dairy workers. He said he knew Michael slightly, saying he stopped on occasion — perhaps to drop off Iddings’ lunch if he had forgotten it.

“(Landers) works at an auto parts place. That fits him perfectly, because Ray is kind of a motorhead and Michael is the same way,” Lunemann said.

The town buzzed with the news, though. Rich Wall, a retired jeweler, said some residents speculated that some people knew of Landers’ history but kept quiet. He said it was the most notable news since a grisly triple homicide there in 2003.

“My grandson called last night and said, ‘Long Prairie made the news again,’ “ Wall said.

1
Text Only
Police News
  • Police news for July 27, 2014 Drug-related arrestsA Middlebury man was arrested Friday morning on two drug-related charges and driving with a suspended license. According to Goshen police, Martin Brown, 26, was stopped at 6:10 a.m. for failing to signal within 200 feet of a turn

    July 27, 2014

  • Elkhart man arrested after hitting utility pole A 2007 Lincoln MKZ driven by Robert Maxey, 25, Elkhart, was eastbound on C.R. 4, east of C.R. 5 near Elkhart. According to Elkhart County police, the vehicle ran off the roadway and struck a utility pole at 12:27 a.m. Friday. Maxey was transported to

    July 25, 2014

  • Abandoned animals removed from home Goshen police and Humane Society of Elkhart County officer Dan Scott were called to 416 N. Eighth Street in Goshen Thursday afternoon for abandoned animals in the unoccupied residence.

    July 25, 2014

  • Red D Mart armed robbery New Paris Police ask for public's help in identifying would-be robber

    Elkhart County police have released still photos captured from video of the man who attempted to hold up Red D Mart gas station, 68310 Ind. 15, New Paris, on Saturday, July 19.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • POLICE NEWS FOR JULY 23: Police determine car fire at Linway Plaza was a suicide attempt Following a four-month investigation, Goshen police determined that a car fire in the Linway Plaza parking lot on March 19 was an attempted suicide.According to Goshen police, William J. Tully was inside a car that caught fire at 12:11 p.m. March 19

    July 23, 2014

  • GN140723 CR34-Ind. 13 Crash 1 LaGrange man airlifted from scene of crash A motorcyclist was seriously injured in a crash at Ind. 13 and C.R. 34 at 1:48 p.m. Tuesday. Terry Fry, 44, LaGrange, was airlifted by MedFlight from the scene. Elkhart County police said he was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital with fractures to

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suspicious blinking package with battery pack causes police to evacuate business area

    A package with a battery pack and a blinking red light found on the desk of an employee at MSC, 28551 Laura Court, Elkhart, caused police and firefighters to evacuate the area this morning.
    The package turned out to be a GPS tracking device and not a bomb.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cat beaten to death in burglary

    A house cat was found beaten to death following a burglary at a home in Howe Sunday.

    July 21, 2014

  • GN140721 Kosciusko Fatal Photo #2.jpg Fiery crash kills one, critically injures two in North Webster

    A fiery crash in North Webster left a Pennsylvania man dead and two others critically injured at 3:21 p.m. Sunday on Ind. 13, near Esterbrook Drive.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • Police looking for armed robbery suspect The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public for information related to an attempted armed robbery at the Red D Mart at 68310 Ind. 15, in New Paris Saturday.According to police, at approximately 9:13 a.m. a white male approximately 20

    July 20, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Poll

With military action and tensions escalating between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Israel and Palestine, are you worried that the U.S. and other nations may get drawn into these conflicts?

Yes, it is a great concern of mine
I’m a little worried, but not too much
No, I’m not worried at all
     View Results