Harter and her son's father were in the midst of a divorce at the time, said Indiana attorney Richard Muntz, who has worked with the mother in her 19-year search.
The couple had a troubled relationship and Harter ended up in a homeless shelter, Muntz said. Child welfare services stepped in because Harter has some developmental disabilities. "The father wasn't in the picture, and the grandparents got temporary custody," Muntz said.
In her own home, remarried and working a job, Harter sought to regain custody. "We had a number of hearings, and during the last one the judge said, 'I don't know if the mother can handle the situation, but we have to give it a try,'" Muntz said.
"The judge ordered the child returned to the mother for a trial period. The grandparents went to the bank, drew $5,000 out of a home equity line and stopped for breakfast at a local restaurant."
That was the last time they were seen in rural Wolcottville, which is about 35 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. A warrant was issued for the grandparents' arrest on a misdemeanor charge of interfering with custody.
Five years later, with authorities convinced that the boy had been taken across state lines, the crime became a felony, Muntz said. In 2008, the LaGrange County prosecutor dropped the charges after neither the boy nor the grandparents had been found.Comment: Mirror article with still pic of the boy. Local news stated that the mother was living in her car 19 years ago. I predict that no charges will be brought against the grandparents.