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Texas boy taken by father 2 years ago found in Sanford, police say

Father left note, 'Gone to visit grandparents out of state' in 2017

SANFORD, Fla. – A boy taken from his Texas family home by his father in 2017 was found safe Saturday morning in Sanford, police officials said.

Sanford police officers were investigating a suspicious vehicle near Seminole Boulevard and San Juan Avenue on Saturday morning when they said they found 9-year-old Joshua Graham with his father, Kenneth Graham, 52.

“That was one of the most happiest days of my life. That was a call that I never thought would come," Yolanda Graham said of when authorities located her son, Joshua.

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According to police, Kenneth Graham, a noncustodial parent, left Texas with Joshua at the end of 2017 without notifying his wife, who was granted sole custody of him in February 2018. 

Yolanda Graham told News 6 she and her husband were separated on Sept. 26, 2017, when she came home to find a note that read, "Gone to visit grandparents out of state."

"I couldn’t believe what I was reading," she said. "I never thought that it was going to go to this extent. And I’m saying, ‘OK,  why is he taking him out of the Parrish Common, let alone the whole state?’"

For two years, Yolanda Graham has worked with the court system to bring her son home.

It was assumed that Kenneth Graham was going to take Joshua to Tallahassee, where his parents lived, but Yolanda Graham later learned that her husband was kicked out of his parents' home in December 2017 and that he Joshua were homeless and living in the Sanford area.

Texas law enforcement in Houston listed Joshua as missing this month with the status of "abducted by a non-custodial parent."

''Regardless of the circumstances, the feelings of loss and devastation are indescribable when any child is taken from a parent. The officers and investigators involved in this case are delighted to have played a significant role in reuniting this mother with her child after two long years. I am proud that the officers responding to this call quickly identified that something didn't seem right, and those instincts led to this happy conclusion," Chief Cecil Smith said.

According to police, Joshua is in the custody of Child Protective Services while he waits to be reunited with his mother. Officials say the state of Texas may file criminal charges at a later date.

Yolanda Graham, her two daughters and her son-in-law, are driving to Sanford from Houston to pick up Joshua. The 9-year-old also became an uncle while he was away. His 9-month-old niece will come along to greet him in Florida.

“We’re all taking turns (driving). We’re just headed straight to Orlando to get Joshua, and we’re anxious," Yolanda Graham said.

As for how Joshua is handling the situation, his mother said he is excited but they have a long road ahead.

"Physically, he looks fine but psychologically, we don’t know," she said. "All we know is I’m going to seek counseling for him."

The mother can't wait to be reunited with her son and doesn't plan on dwelling on the past.

"It’s only by the grace of God that everything changed," Yolanda Graham said.

WATCH LIVE: Officials provide details on missing Texas boy found in Sanford

Sanford police officials provide details on the missing Texas boy found in Sanford earlier today. More on this story here: https://bit.ly/2CNH1Dc

Posted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Saturday, March 30, 2019

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