A missing 7-year-old Bollinger County boy was located in Madison County late Thursday, more than 24 hours after authorities said he was taken by his father.
A dispatcher with the Bollinger County Sheriff's Department would only say that Landon Flessner was found in Madison County, but nothing else.
Earlier in the day, Sheriff Leo McElrath said the boy was taken from his school by his father, who was about to lose custody to the state. But Aaron Flessner isn't legally entitled to have him because he didn't have custody, McElrath said.
Before the boy was found, his mother, Bonnie Moore, said she was not really rooting for them to be found, considering she knew what would happen when they were.
"I can't say that I blame him," Moore said of the father of their son. "I know in my heart that Aaron would never hurt that boy.
"Landon's his whole life. He's just running because he's scared."
Moore gave custody of Landon to the boy's father several years ago, but Flessner was about to lose custody, Moore said, and Landon was not going to be coming to live with her. He was about to become a ward of the state -- and the state was about to turn the child over to Aaron Flessner's mother, the boy's grandmother, Moore said.
"Aaron didn't want that," Moore said. " ... He just wants to be with his son."
Moore said Aaron Flessner did not like the way his son might be raised by his grandmother.
So on Wednesday, Flessner picked up his son at school about 3 p.m. -- and he was gone for more than 24 hours. His father's whereabouts were not disclosed, but he was believed to have been driving a 1993 Ford pickup. McElrath said earlier Thursday they had no reason to believe that Aaron Flessner would hurt his son.
"I don't think the man is dangerous," McElrath said. "But the father doesn't have custody of him."
Chief deputy Jeff Woodard said the department looked in several locations that were familiar to the father. But they had no luck.
Woodard said he realized the mother was only "somewhat" concerned.
"But it's our job to try and find him," Woodard said.
The reason Aaron Flessner was losing custody, Moore said, was that he had begun dating a woman who allegedly had problems with drugs. But he was breaking up with her, Moore said, if it meant he could see his son.
"This is just all a mess," Moore said. "He's a wonderful father to that little boy."
When Moore was asked where she believed the two are, she said she didn't know.
"But they'll be back," Moore said. "He just needs a little more time with his son. Who can't understand that?"
Marble Hill, Mo.