A 9-year-old boy who was reported missing more than a month ago has been found, safe and alive, more than 7,000 miles away from his home.
According to USA Today, in September, Billy Hanson’s mom reported that he was missing when he didn’t return back home after visiting his father, Jeffrey Hanson, in Seattle.
Billy’s parents, Jeffrey and Joanna, are divorced. Joanna and Billy live in Pennsylvania; Jeffrey lives in Seattle. As the Times Leader reports, Jeffrey had monthly visitation rights.
Authorities focused on finding the 38-foot yacht belonging to Jeffrey Hanson, an experienced sailor who had traveled around the South Pacific and Mexico.
USA Today reports that international search efforts finally located the father and son on Niue, a coral atoll 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand and 5,500 miles away from Seattle.
Hanson was arrested by the island’s 15-person police force on Wednesday. A local had recognized him from a wanted poster, and had tipped off the police.
According to the Seattle Times, the 46-year-old man was brought back to the U.S. on Sunday to face charges of international parental kidnapping.
Billy remained on the island for several extra days afterwards while authorities arranged to return him to his mother – and, according to a report from the Niue Star, Billy seemed to be in good shape.
“I saw him at a barbeque on Friday and he did not look stressed,” said the editor of the Niue Star, who also noted that locals were looking after him and that Billy appeared to be treating the entire incident as an adventure.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has said that Hanson is a “known drug abuser.” Billy had gone on summer visits to his father’s for the past five years.
One of Jeffrey Hanson’s friends told the FBI that Hanson would abuse his son on those visits, including hitting him to “toughen” him up.
USA Today reports that it is unclear where the boy currently is; on Monday, the FBI said that authorities were still working to reunite him with his mom.