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Missing Autistic 6-Year-Old Boy from Florida Found ‘Safe and Sound’ in Canada, Father and Grandmother Arrested

Jorge Gabriel Morales and his mother, Lilliam Pena Morales. (U.S. Marshals Service)

Jorge Gabriel Morales and his mother, Lilliam Pena Morales. (U.S. Marshals Service)

A 6-year-old boy from Florida who was allegedly kidnapped in late August has been found safe in Canada after being missing for more than two months. Jorge “Jojo” Morales was found “in good health and unharmed” on Sunday while Jorge Gabriel Morales and Lilliam Pena Morales, the boy’s 45-year-old father and 65-year-old paternal grandmother, respectively, were both taken into custody by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Moncton, New Brunswick, according to a press release from the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Jorge Jojo Morales via Miami-Dade Police Deptartment copy

Jorge Jojo Morales via Miami-Dade Police Deptartment copy

The investigation into Jojo’s whereabouts was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, and the Maine State Police Department, among other agencies.

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said locating Jojo and bringing him home safe was the result of multiple agencies working together.

“This is another example of how local, state, federal, and international law enforcement, along with the United States and State Attorney’s Office, coming together for the safety of a child and will continue to work together to fight the greater evil,” he said.

According to a press release from RCMP New Brunswick, Jojo’s father was taken into custody at a business located on Plaza Boulevard while his grandmother was arrested on Village-Des-Cormier Road in Saint-Paul. Both were taken into custody without incident and charged with felony custodial interference, police said.

The Canadian authorities found out about Jojo’s location after a tipster who had recently watched news coverage about the missing child spotted him and his father shopping at a Walmart in Moncton, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) said in a release.

Jojo, who lives with autism, was last seen wearing a gray t-shirt, gray shorts, and black shoes on Aug. 27, 2022 at approximately 9:15 a.m. when his father and grandmother picked him up from his mother’s residence, police said. A judge in the boy’s hometown of Homestead issued a court ordered time-sharing agreement between the two parents, according to a report from CBS News.

Police said the boy was never returned, however, in violation of that order and a Missing Persons Alert was issued.

The boy’s mother, Yanet Leal Concepcion, reportedly told CBS News that she had begun to expect the worst and was overjoyed at the return of her son.

“[I’m] just so happy rite now. I can’t even think that I went through such a hard time,” she reportedly told CBS, which posted her reaction as-written. “I thought my son was gonna die. It was very hard to sleep. It was very hard to eat. All I could think about was him. What was he doing. If he was OK. If he was asking for his mom.”

Concepcion reportedly told NBC News that her initial fears were greatly exacerbated when she went to Jojo’s father’s home looking for her son and found the residence virtually empty.
“Everything was gone. Everything was gone from his apartment,” she reportedly said. “His phones were off. His mom’s phone was off.”

Concepcion reportedly added that she plans on taking her son on a Disney cruise – something she said the boy has wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t because his father would not let him.

[images via USMS and MDPD]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.