BOURBON, MO (KTVI/CNN) - A 6-year-old boy who went missing in August, along with his mother and her boyfriend, was returned to the custody of his father after he was found hidden in an attic crawl space that had been nailed shut.
Father Ryan Jones was reunited with his son Braedence Jones Tuesday, five months after the boy disappeared following a visit with his mother, Aubrey Ferguson, who did not have full custody of the 6-year-old.
"It was the first thing we did: give him a big hug and tell him how much we love him,” Jones said. “I’m just happy Braedence is back, that they were able to find him.”
The boy’s mother and her boyfriend, Woodrow Ziegler, were arrested after authorities executed a search warrant on a home in Laclede County, MO. Ferguson, Ziegler and Braedence were all inside, with the mother and son hidden in a crawl space in the attic.
"The boyfriend had already nailed the crawl space shut and had covered it with either a carpet or some piece of cloth and had moved furniture and other items in front of it to block it,” said Lt. Arlyne Page with the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.
The 6-year-old has not attended school this year, according to investigators, and Jones says the boy was filthy when he was found.
"He mentioned that he hasn’t had a bath, so we gave him a bath. He had dirt caked on him,” said Braedence’s stepmother, Bre Dominguez.
Braedence got to open his Christmas presents Tuesday night. His family says they are extremely grateful to law enforcement.
"This is one of the happiest days we’ve ever had,” Dominguez said. “We’re definitely blessed for them. We’re just so thankful. Without them, no telling where he could have been.”
Braedence will return to school next week. He’ll also be going to the doctor for a check-up as a precaution.
Ferguson is being held on two warrants, at least one for child abduction. Ziegler is a felon, who was court-ordered to not be around Braedence. Additional charges against both of them are being considered.
Authorities say relatives were assisting the couple in moving around a few different counties surrounding Camden County, MO, from where the boy disappeared. Anyone who assisted could also face charges.