OOn June 29, Janie Santana received the message every parent of a missing child longs to hear. After eight years of praying that her son, Rudy Farias, was still alive, Ms. Santana received a much-anticipated call from Houston Police Department telling her he had been found.
Ms Santana claimed Rudy, now 25, was severely beaten and abused but expressed relief at the prospect of finally being able to hold her son after years of insecurity.
But what worked like a miracle against all odds is now being called into question as allegations have been voiced by Ms Santana’s neighbors that their son was never missing.
The Houston Police Department confirmed in a news conference Thursday that Rudy was never missing.
Accounts from Ms. Santana tell of Rudy’s tragic past full of loss, mental health issues and challenges. But as questions mount about his faked disappearance over the past eight years, those involved in the initial search for the then 17-year-old are wondering why.
Rudy was reported missing in 2015
According to information on a Texas EquuSearch flyer distributed after his disappearance, Rudy was last seen around 6:30 p.m. on March 6, 2015, walking his dogs near Tidwell and Park Avenues.
He was wearing blue jeans, a black t-shirt, gray cotton gloves and brown shoes. The pets were eventually found safe, but Rudy reportedly never returned home.
At the time of his disappearance, the public was told that Rudy had been diagnosed with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety, and had likely stopped taking his medication. He had previously injured his right leg and was limping slightly.
Rudy was usually cautious around strangers and didn’t carry his asthma inhaler with him.
Mrs. Santana told Local news channel KHOU In 2015, she said she had been desperately searching for her son and claimed HPD had told her that Rudy may have been kidnapped and sold for human trafficking. She did not show up in that interview, claiming that she was advised by law enforcement to be extra cautious.
“He loves with all his heart, so we know he wouldn’t just get up and leave. That’s not him,” Ms Santana told the outlet, fighting back tears. “It’s a nightmare you want to wake up from.”
In 2018, authorities received a call from a relative who claimed to have seen Rudy behind her home, but officers who were on the scene were unable to locate him.
A life of tragedy
Accordingly insiderRudy’s father, Houston Police Officer Rudolph Farias III, committed suicide in 2014. He was a 21-year war veteran and was facing an internal investigation at the time of his death.
The EquuSearch flyer said Rudy had also attempted suicide in the past.
In addition to suffering from mental health issues, Rudy also lost his brother to a motorcycle accident four years earlier in 2011, his mother told ABC.
An article published on FOX 26 Houston In 2012 it was reported that Rudy and his mother, described as a “Navy mother and son”, were at risk of homelessness.
“Rudy Farias was unable to speak to us in person today as he is in a hospital bed,” read the preview of the report, which has since been removed.
“My son is receiving the care he needs to overcome his trauma”
The news that Rudy had been found was first reported Saturday in a tweet from the Texas Center for the Missing, which was overseeing public communications on behalf of his family. Ms Santana also said in a statement that her son was “nonverbal” and had asked for privacy.
“What we do know is that at the time of his recovery, a Good Samaritan found he was unresponsive and immediately called the police and 911. My son Rudy is receiving the care he needs to overcome his trauma, but at this point he is non-verbal and “unable to communicate with us,” the statement said.
Houston police confirmed they received a 911 call about an unconscious man outside of Immaculate Heart Church abc news.
When first responders arrived at the scene, they found a man later identified as Rudy. According to his mother, he had been visibly beaten and had bruises and cuts all over his body and dry blood on his head. Over the weekend, police contacted his family and told them he had been found alive.
“We have no further information on Rudy’s case at this time. What we do know is… a Good Samaritan found he was unresponsive and immediately called the police and called 911,” Ms Santana said in a statement to local news station KHOU.
“My son Rudy is receiving the care he needs to overcome his trauma, but at this point he is non-verbal and unable to communicate with us.”
“We ask for privacy at this difficult time but will share further details as Rudy continues to heal.”
Ms Santana claimed Rudy was found with a necklace that belonged to his late brother and hugged her whenever doctors or family members tried to speak to him.
She also said that he remained disoriented and would only say a few words before shutting down and putting himself in a fetal position.
Rudy was never missed
Shortly after police announced Rudy was not missing, neighbors of Ms Santana told ABC News they never knew Rudy was missing because they had seen him many times over the past several years.
“He used to come into my garage and chill with my cousin, my son and my daughter,” said Kisha Ross, who lives a few doors down from Ms. Santana ABC. “This boy was never missing… Sometimes he would go to the park alone.”
Ms Ross’ cousin Broderick Conley also told the broadcaster that he knew Rudy as “Dolph”, short for Rudolph, and that he “had a good laugh” when they hung out together. However, Mr Conley and Ms Ross said they had not seen Rudy in recent years.
Authorities are investigating the circumstances of Rudy’s disappearance and trying to find out where he has been for the past eight years.
“Our mission is to continue to support our families whose loved ones are missing,” said Melissa Rangel, a spokeswoman for the Texas Center for the Missing CNN. “Rudy Farias has been missing for eight years and has now been safely found. At the Texas Center for the Missing, we continue to support our families as they reunite and want to continue to support families through healing and hope when their loved ones are missing.”
But Tim Miller, founder of Texas Equusearch, described the case as “very strange”.
Then, during a news conference Thursday, Houston authorities revealed that Rudy was, in fact, never missing.
Rudy Faria’s mother will not be charged with eight years of lying, police say
Police Chief Troy Finner said that during the eight years that Rudy was missing, police questioned Mr Farias and Ms Santana, both of whom claimed he was her nephew and gave a false name.
“After investigators spoke to him yesterday, it was determined that Rudy had returned home the following day, March 8, 2015,” said Lt. Christopher Zamora, a detective with the Houston Police Department’s (HPD) missing persons unit.
“Janie continued to deceive the police by insisting Rudy was still missing. She claimed that her nephew is the one who is friends and relatives [saw] Come and go.”
Despite the lie, Mr Zamora said the district attorney had declined to press charges against Ms Santana and Mr Farias for making false statements.
Mr. Zamora also contradicted allegations by Houston activist and consultant Quanell X, who claimed Mr. Farias had suffered sexual and physical abuse over the past eight years.
“We take all allegations seriously and will investigate any new information or facts that we receive,” Mr Zamora said.
Police said they would not release any information about a victim’s possible sexual abuse and declined to comment on whether mental health was a factor in the long-running saga. They did not discuss a possible motive for the eight-year scam.
Over the weekend, Quanell X doubled down on its claims, telling The Independent: “I absolutely believe Rudy is a victim.”
Discussing his behavior in a police interview he also attended, he added, “The boy was upset…absolutely upset.” He paced; He acted like a teenager, then he would act like 20… is he 23 or 25? He went back and forth between a childlike state and a mature state.”
“It’s all confusing as hell to me now,” he said. “I think they are victimizing the child again. I believe he needs comprehensive medical, psychological help and treatment.”
Why would his mother lie about his disappearance?
While police claimed that Ms Santana lied about her son’s disappearance, they did not provide an explanation as to why she might have done such a thing.
However, a private investigator who tried to track Rudy said she believes Ms. Santana may have an illness such as Proxy Munchausen Syndrome.
Brenda Paradise narrated The Independent that she wasn’t surprised when it turned out that he had been with his mother the whole time. She said she became suspicious of the mother from the start. When she started asking difficult questions that Ms. Santana didn’t like, she said they lost touch. Ms Paradise also said she believes Ms Santana was hoping to raise funds from the public.
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