A missing 6-year-old autistic boy has been found safe in Canada, thanks to a tipter who spotted him with his father at a Walmart two months after he went missing in Miami, police said.
Jorge Morales was reported missing by his mother, Yanet Leal Concepcion, on Aug. 27 after his father violated their custody agreement by failing to return him to her. He was discovered on Sunday in Moncton, New Brunswick, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
“I’m just so happy because my son is okay, I feared the worst,” Concepcion told Local10. “Every mother fears the worst and I’m just.. I can’t my body is like leaving my soul. I’m just so happy I can’t stop crying.”The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children later shared that a tipster recognized Jojo and his father, Jorge Gabriel Morales, at a Walmart in Moncton and alerted.
Police suspected Jojo was in Maine or eastern Canada after a 2006 Ford Expedition driven by Jorge Morales was discovered in Maine in late September.
The FBI later released surveillance footage from a Walgreens in nearby Houlton, confirming that Jojo was in Maine at some point.
Jorge Morales, 45, and his mother, Lillian Pena Morales, 68, were arrested without incident. Both are still in police custody.
“This is another example 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,” Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said in a statement.
Concepcion told 7News that Jojo is relatively unaware of the reality of what happened to him.
“He asked me where I have been, because he doesn’t know, he’s very unaware to what’s going on,” she explained to the outlet, describing the moment she finally got to speak to her son on the phone. “Thankfully, it’s a blessing in disguise that he is living with autism because he thought he was on vacation, and I told him the same.”
Her two-month ordeal, on the other hand, has been “constant sadness…very little sleep, having trouble eating, just constantly praying, constantly thinking that something bad was going to happen to him.”
Concepcion told 7News that she expected to see Jojo late Monday or early Tuesday. A Canadian social worker will accompany him back to Florida.
“We are forever grateful [for the person who called the police],” she said. “It takes courage to say something, and I know it does, and I hope they know that, thanks to that person, I’m going to see my son again.”