Kidnapped Boy Freed After Sixteen Years
RIGA, Latvia - A 16-year-old Latvian boy who was kidnapped as an infant could soon be reunited with his mother after a startling break in the case, authorities said Wednesday.
Investigators made the discovery after the woman who raised the boy in Daugavpils, near the border with Belarus, was arrested in a separate case and questions arose about the boy's identity, police spokeswoman Inguna Dunda said.
The boy had no birth certificate or personal ID code — obligatory in Latvia — which prompted investigators to reopen the 1992 kidnapping case that was closed six years ago because of a lack of leads.
A DNA test confirmed that the teenager was the boy who was kidnapped when he was just 1 1/2 months old, the State Police said.
The case has shocked Latvia, a country of 2.3 million, and particularly Daugavpils, whose 150,000 residents are mainly ethnic Russians.
The woman who raised the boy denied kidnapping him and told police her husband, who died several years ago, had brought the boy home claiming he came from the Russian region of Dagestan, Dunda said.
Authorities placed the boy in a foster family and pending a custody hearing that will determine if he can live with his biological mother, who also lives in Daugavpils, Latvia's second-largest city.
The Ministry for Children and Family Affairs said that the custody court would weigh all factors — including the teenage boy's wish — when deciding where he should live until he turns 18.
Dunda said the boy was the only child for both his biological mother and the arrested woman.
Police said boy has been removed from school and is receiving psychological help.