According to an Associated Press story posted on September 5, 2009, Richard "Ricky" Chekevdia, who will be 7 on Sept. 14, was in good spirits and healthy after being found Friday by investigators who searched a two-story rural home in Illinois owned by his grandmother. Ricky had been missing for nearly two years. This child was found in a secret room in the grandmother’s house, a room roughly 5 feet by 12 feet and about the height of a washing machine.
The boy's mother, 30-year-old Shannon Wilfong, has been charged with felony child abduction. The grandmother, 51-year-old Diane Dobbs, has been charged with aiding and abetting. Both remained jailed Saturday on, Wilfong held on a $42,500 bond and Dobbs held on $1,000 bond. [Note: AP Photo from the Chekevdia family]
The parents were never married. Mike Chekevdia, a 48-year-old former police officer who's a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard, won temporary custody of his son shortly before the boy and his mother — Chekevdia's former girlfriend — disappeared in November 2007. Amazingly, he lives only about three miles from the home where his son was found.
Chekevdia told the AP that he had long suspected his son was being hidden by Dobbs, although there were no signs of the boy at her home when it was searched with her consent after his disappearance. [Perhaps at that time the child and his mother were safely hidden away in another location.] Wilfong was charged in December 2007 with abducting the boy but couldn't be found.
Unfortunately, after the recovery, Ricky could not be turned over to his father. He is now staying with one of his father's relatives while state child-welfare workers investigate claims the father abused the child before his disappearance — allegations rejected by the dad. [Why weren't these claims investigated in 2007?]
The power and importance of a UCCJEA Warrant to recover a victim of parental abduction
Two years is an unacceptable amount of time to resolve a parental abduction. While I have not seen the court file, it appears that this case could have been resolved much earlier had a warrant to make a surprise search been obtained. In other words, once the dust cleared after the abduction and the first search, after a few weeks or months, a warrant would have given law enforcement the right to enter and search at any time or day or night (the latter only if exigent circumstances are alleged and have some basis in fact). However, the good news is that this child can be reunited with his father—likely very, very soon.
You'll find many other valuable resources on my website http://parental-kidnapping.com. If your child is missing, please contact me to see if I can assist you or your attorney in recovery. I've consulted in many interstate parental kidnappings -- 7 in the past 12 months alone -- and can walk your attorney through the process even if Michigan is not one of the states involved. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 231-223-7864 or 231-649-2140.