Joshua Graham has a story that is nothing if not remarkable.
There are far too many child abduction stories that end in tragedy for both the child and the child’s family. Fortunately, the Joshua Graham story is one that ends in triumph.
Who is Joshua Graham?
According to Fox35 Orlando, Graham was found on March 30, 2019, in the town of Sanford, FL. Graham, who was with his father, Kenneth, was otherwise safe and sound, in good health and without any injuries.
And while local authorities said that they would not be pursuing any charges against Kenneth Graham, their failure to pursue charges didn’t preclude Texas officials from pursuing charges against him.
Let’s look at what we know about Joshua Graham, and the details surrounding his kidnapping and retrieval.
1. He was found in a “suspicious vehicle.”
According to ABC News, Joshua Graham was originally found in Sanford, FL, after police were called to inspect what they dubbed a “suspicious vehicle” in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, March 30th. " 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," Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said in a statement following the retrieval.
2. He was found with his “non-custodial parent.”
According to The New York Daily News, Kenneth Graham, 52, was 9-year-old Joshua’s “non-custodial parent.” In February 2018, Joshua’s mother was granted sole custody by a Texas family court judge. However, Kenneth kidnapped Joshua from his Texas home at the end of 2017, when he left the home without telling Joshua’s mother (who is also his ex-girlfriend) that he would be taking Joshua with him. It was that failure to disclose to Joshua’s mother that earned him kidnapping charges from the Houston Police Department.
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3. It was believed that he was living in Tallahassee, FL.
According to Chron, prior to living in Houston, TX, Kenneth Graham lived in Tallahassee, FL. When it was revealed that Joshua Graham was missing, it was almost automatically presumed that Kenneth had run away to Tallahassee with his son. Why the Tallahassee police, however, failed to investigate the matter beyond the basic review remains a mystery. But it took months of Joshua’s mother badgering authorities to finally have the boy declared missing — which finally happened on March 26, 2018.
4. His mother believed she would never see him again.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 400,000 children go missing or are kidnapped. Of those children, one in seven become victims of sex trafficking. What’s more, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that if a child is not found within 72 hours of first being reported missing or abducted, the chances are extremely high that the child, if found, will be deceased.
So it makes sense that Yolanda Graham Phoner, Joshua’s mother, thought that she would never see her son, Joshua Graham, alive ever again.
And when he was found alive, Yolanda said that she couldn’t be more grateful.
"I felt like I would never see Joshua again and my daughters would never see their brother again. When (the call) came (that they found him), it was like I was having a dream because I just never thought it would happen so quickly because me and my family have waited so long and we’ve been through so much that it just felt like I was dreaming,” she told Chron.
5. He hasn’t been reunited with his mother…yet.
Unfortunately, this story isn’t quite over. While Joshua Graham has been found, he hasn’t been reunited with his mother yet. He’s currently in child protective custody and is awaiting reunification, according to 8News. It’s unclear what has to happen in order for Joshua to be reunited with his mother, but anyone with details about Joshua’s non-custodial father, Kenneth Graham, is invited to call the Sanford police, according to 8News.
We are thrilled that the Joshua Graham story ended positively for all involved!
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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. Find her online at www.bernadettegiacomazzo.com and www.longlivetheuprising.com.