Missing 6-Year-Old ‘Jojo’ Morales Reunites With Mother After Being Kidnapped and Taken to Canada
An autistic, 6-year-old boy named Jorge “Jojo” Morales has been found safe after he was kidnapped by his father and taken to Canada with help from the boy’s grandmother.
Sixty-six days after the initial kidnapping, Jojo was spotted in Canada and was eventually reunited with his mother. His father and grandmother have been arrested for not returning the child home and violating court orders.
Miami-Dade County Police reported Jojo missing on August 27 with photos of the child, his father, and his grandmother alongside an image of the make and model of the 2006 Ford Expedition in which he was transported. In collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of New Brunswick, Jojo was returned home safely after a witness spotted him in a local Walmart with his father.
In an interview with Local 10 in Miami-Dade County, Jojo’s mother Yanet Leal Concepción said, “I’m just so happy because my son is okay, I feared the worst. 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.”
Authorities had been searching for Jorge Morales, the boy’s father, since he was first reported missing, tracing Morales’ steps to a 2006 Ford Expedition that was found in Maine.
Surveillance footage from a Walgreens in Houlton confirmed that Jojo and his father had, in fact, moved through Maine before making their way to Canada. The video also shows Lilliam Pena Morales, Jojo’s grandmother, who helped Jorge with the abduction.
Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez praised both the local and Canadian police departments for their collaboration, saying, “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.”
A heartwarming video aired on Noticias Telemundo shows Jojo, escorted by local authorities as well as a Canadian social worker, running towards his mother at Miami International Airport while screaming “Mommy!” He runs right into his mother’s arms as the two share a joyous reunion.
In the video, Concepción talks about her intention to make up for the time they lost, including a re-do of Halloween and the boy’s birthday, which they missed during the two months he was missing. Speaking with 7 News in Miami, Concepcion revealed more about her interactions with the woman who contacted authorities after seeing Jojo in Canada.
“We were both crying and I told her, ‘Thank you for saving my son’s life,'” Jojo’s mother said. “She said, ‘The only thing I want is if you could update me, send me a picture on the holidays, here or there.’ I said, ‘Of course! I will bring you here!'”
The anonymous tipster told NBC 6, “I did it as a mother. I did it because I can not imagine never seeing my son or wondering did they kill him.”
In her interview with 7 News, Concepcion said she was relieved by how unaware Jojo was of his situation. “He asked me where I have been, because he doesn’t know, he’s very unaware of what’s going on,” she said. “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.”
Now that he’s back home, Jojo’s mother — a nurse — can now live without “constant sadness, very little sleep, having trouble eating, just constantly praying, constantly thinking that something bad was going to happen to him.”