Illinois Mother Hid Her Son in Secret Crawl Spaces

September 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
For two years a house in Illinois was a prison for a little boy and a hideout for his mother. For two years a house in Illinois was a prison for a little boy and a hideout for his mother.

Ricky Chekevdia and his mom, Shannon Wilfong disappeared in the middle of a heated custody battle with the boy's father. Acting on a tip, police found mother and child huddled in a secret crawl space inside the home of Wilfong's mother.

"When they notified me that they had found him you could have knocked me over with a feather," said Ricky's father Michael Chekevdia.

Investigators said the house was riddled with secret hiding places; a hole in the floor, another carved into the wall behind a dresser. It was clear the 6-year-old had rarely, if ever ventured outside.

"We let him out of the car and he ran around like he'd never seen the outdoors. It was actually very sad," said Master Sergeant Stand Diggs with the Illinois State Police.

Michael Chekevdia and Shannon Wilfong had a difficult relationship-at best. After Michael won temporary custody of Ricky, Shannon accused him of sexually abusing the boy. Those allegations are just strictly allegations. Child welfare workers found no evidence of abuse and mother and son took off.

The department of family services has yet to unite Ricky with his father. "God only knows what the first words out of my mouth will be. It will just be a big hug and 'I have missed you probably.'"

Ricky's mother has traded her tiny crawlspace for a cell in the county jail. Both she and her mother could face at least a year in prison.

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