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Houston man reported missing for 8 years was home the whole time, police say

It is unclear why Rudy Farias' mother, Janie Santana, maintained her son was missing for eight years, police said.
/ Source: TODAY

A 25-year-old Houston man who allegedly went missing when he was a teenager eight years ago reappeared over the weekend — but police now say he was never actually missing at all.

Rudy Farias had been living with his mother, Janie Santana, almost the entire time, Houston Police Lt. Christopher Zamora said during a press conference Thursday.

"He was not missing during the eight-year period," Zamora said.

Zamora said Santana would provide fake names and birthdays when police officers spoke with them multiple times over the eight year period.

Home of Rudy Farias in Houston.
Rudy Farias' home in Houston.Google Maps

"He made contact with patrol officers out on the street. However, during these contacts, fictitious names and dates of birth were given misleading officers, and Rudy would remain missing,” Zamora said. "In fact, both Rudy’s mother, and Rudy himself gave fictitious names while interacting with various patrol officers."

Farias made headlines over the weekend when it was widely reported he was located in a Houston church. Police said he was reported missing on March 7, 2015.

Santana said in a July 3 statement a "good Samaritan" found Farias unresponsive and immediately called authorities for help.

"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," Santana said in the statement.

Zamora said Farias spoke with investigators on July 5, and detectives determined Farias actually returned home on March 8, 2015, the after he was reporting missing to police, adding more questions than answers to the solved missing persons case.

Pauline Sanchez, Farias' aunt, told NBC News she got to see her nephew for the first time in eight years on July 6.

"I felt great presence. It was beautiful. We hugged until I finally let go. He’s a bit skinny," she said. "He’s doing well but plans to stay away from his mother."

Rudy Farias' aunt, Pauline Sanchez.
Rudy Farias' aunt, Pauline Sanchez.Deon J. Hampton / NBC News

Sanchez added Farias told her he no longer wanted to live with his mother or have any contact with her, and that she didn't ask him about his missing person case.

"His mentality, he needs to get well. 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," she said. "He doesn’t want to see his mom and doesn’t want to go back to his mom."

Some of Santana's neighbors and members of the community were surprised to find out Farias had been reported as a missing person, as they saw him often in the neighborhood.

Neighbor Kisha Ross told NBC News Farias had been staying with his mother, just two doors down from her, since Ross moved to Houston eight months ago.

"That boy hasn’t been missing for no eight years. They stay two houses down from me. That boy comes to my house. He’s been in my living room," Ross said, adding she and her family knew him as "Dolph."

Zamora said Santana would identify her son as her nephew in many instances.

"The mother, Janie, continued to deceive police by remaining adamant that Rudy was still missing," Zamora said.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said during the press conference he didn't know why Santana maintained her son was missing.

"We can’t predict motivation," Finner said.

Santana could be prosecuted for allegedly giving false information in a police report, but prosecutors have declined to open a case against Santana so far, police said. The investigation is still ongoing.