The Baffling Story of Teen Rudy Farias- "Brainwashed" at Home and Never Missing Amid 8-Year Search

Elizabeth Smart's Guide to Teaching Children Personal Safety

Rudolph "Rudy" Farias IV went out to walk his two dogs on March 6, 2015, and—though the pups returned, one a few hours later and the other the next morning, both off-leash—he never came home.

That's what the 17-year-old's mother told Houston police the next day, Farias' disappearance the latest blow for a family that had already suffered the deaths of his older half-brother in a motorcycle accident and his father by suicide.

"His brother was his best friend in the world," private investigator Brenda Paradise told NBC News' Dateline that April. "He's just gone through so much more than anyone his age ever should."

A Houston Police Department spokesman said at the time they did not suspect foul play and there was a designated officer tracking down any and all leads in what had been categorized as a missing person's case.

But the trail grew cold and investigators were never able to get a read on what happened to Farias. Until he turned up June 29 at a church about eight miles away from his house and, according to police, it turned out he'd been living there with his mom all along.

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How was Rudy Farias found?

The Texas Center for the Missing announced that Farias, now 25, had been "located safe" and was recovering at a hospital.

"What we do know is at the time of his recovery, a good Samaritan located him unresponsive and immediately called police and 911," his mother, Janie Santana, said in a statement released by the center July 3. "My son Rudy is receiving the care he needs to overcome his trauma, but at this time, he is nonverbal and not able to communicate with us."

The family requested privacy, the statement said, and more details would be released "as Rudy continues to heal."

Texas Center for the Missing

Houston's KTRK reported that Farias was found sleeping in front of a church in Houston's Magnolia Park neighborhood. The chief of the Houston Fire Department told the station that Farias refused to be transported to the hospital by ambulance and he was given over to his mother's care.

Tim Miller of Texas EqquuSearch, a nonprofit search-and-recovery organization that helped look for Farias when he was first reported missing in 2015, called the outcome a "miracle"—but he also had some questions.

"What's happened?" Miller told NBC News. "Where has he been? Why? And what's he been doing over these last eight years?"

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What really happened to Rudy Farias?

"Someone out there knows something, anything," Santana told KTRK in May 2017 after a billboard with her son's picture had gone up for National Missing Children's Day. "I just want closure and not knowing—it's torture."

But, according to Houston police, Farias actually came home a day after Santana reported him missing.

Investigators searched their house several times over the years, Houston Police Lt. Christopher Zamora said during a July 6 press conference, and "both Janie…and Rudy himself gave fictitious names while interacting with various patrol officers."

Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP

Santana told people that the young man they'd see coming and going from her house was her nephew, Zamora said, and she "continued to deceive police by remaining adamant that Rudy was still missing."

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said they wouldn't speculate as to the motive behind the alleged subterfuge, but authorities were still investigating. Regarding Farias, Finner said, "I'm not going to say if he's a victim or not."

Santana and Farias could face misdemeanor charges, the chief noted, she for failing to inform police that her son was no longer missing and he for giving police a false identity. (Neither has been charged with any crime to date.)

Why was it possible to believe Rudy Farias was missing for 8 years?

Neighbors and relatives told various media outlets that they hadn't seen Farias for the eight years since Santana said he was missing.

"It was always the same answer," 80-year-old John Richardson, who lives across the street from Santana, told NBC News. "She would start crying and say they haven't found him, and it would hurt me."

Farias' aunt and Santana's stepsister Pauline Sanchez said she had just hugged her nephew for the first time in eight years and he was "doing well but plans to stay away from his mother."

Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP

"His mentality, he needs to get well," Sanchez told NBC on July 6. "He's going to be cautious. I still feel that he's traumatized and gone through a lot. I still feel action should be taken. He doesn't want to see his mom and doesn't want to go back to his mom."

Sanchez said Farias was no longer living with his mom and the aunt had reunited with him at the house where he planned to stay.

Another neighbor, however, said Farias visited her house regularly to chat during the time his mom maintained he was gone.

"Every day he comes over and talks to us," Jeanay Wyble, 24, told NBC News. He did appear depressed, she added, but "we didn't know he was missing. We've just been hanging with him."

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What has Rudy Farias said about his life during the 8 years his mother said he was missing?

Farias said in subsequent local TV interviews (both of which blurred his face) that he was shocked by all the attention and was trying to stay positive.

His mother confused and manipulated him, Farias alleged, and told him he'd be arrested if he so much as got a speeding ticket.  He said he was pulled over once while driving his mom's car and, as she allegedly instructed him, he gave the officer a fake name.

"She never, like, locked me in or handcuffed me, or anything like that," he told Houston's KTRK June 12. "I had free will to leave…It just felt like brainwashing, honestly."

Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP

Santana has made no public statements since police shared their findings on July 6, including in response to her son's interviews, and neither E! News nor NBC News could reach her for comment.

Texas Center for the Missing

Farias said he rarely left the house other than to accompany his mother to her job as an overnight security guard, and he wasn't allowed to see the family members who came to the house during those eight years.คำพูดจาก เว็บสล็อตเว็บตรง

His father, a Houston police officer, took his own life in 2014, and Farias' older half-brother, who he really looked up to, was killed in a motorcycle crash in 2011.

"She locked me in there pretty much mentally," Farias said. "Just that she was my only parent, she was the only person I really had besides my brother. So when I lost my brother, I didn't have anybody to teach me how to live…and how to have confidence or trust in myself."

Farias told KRIV that he studied online to "understand how the world works, understand different cultures, different religions, different everything."

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Farias also denied to both outlets that his mother sexually abused him.

"She didn't force herself on me or anything like that," he told KRIV. "It wouldn't be anything where I would have to go get a rape kit or go file a police report. It would never be anything like that. Just stuff that really made me uncomfortable and I didn't have any references or other people to bounce off of to understand if it's a healthy thing that she does or not."

Asked whether he and his mother shared a normal relationship, Farias said, "Not after all of that. Not after everything she did and to be honest, I don't want one with her."

Police Lt. Zamora said July 6 that Farias had been connected with victims' services so he had resources to aid in his recovery, but that based on their interview with him, no alleged sexual abuse had been reported. "If there is a disclosure made," he said, "we will continue to investigate."

At the time, Zamora noted, the Harris County District Attorney's Office had declined to file charges pending the final outcome of the HPD's ongoing investigation.

KTRK/ KSAT 12 via CNN Newsource

Where is Rudy Farias now?

Farias has stayed out of the public eye since speaking to the media, but in those interviews he said he was at peace and trying to keep his "mentality straight and honest and true."

Asked if he felt he was a victim in this case, Farias told KTRK, "Yes, heavily."

But he reiterated that he wanted to move on. "I want to have a family, a job, a car, a house," he said. "I just want to live my life." His last few words were muffled with emotion, but you can make out that he added "and be happy."

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