Neighbors of ‘missing’ Houston man stunned and confused by apparent hoax

HOUSTON — Neighbors of a Houston man who police believe was at the center of a missing-persons hoax said they were stunned to learn he had been reported missing at all because they see him so often in the neighborhood.

But at least one resident of tree-lined Valley Lake Drive, 80-year-old John Richardson, said he truly believed Rudy Farias, 25, had vanished because he hadn’t seen the young man in eight years.

And when Richardson asked Farias’ mother about her “missing” son, she would start crying.

Rudy Farias.
Rudy Farias.Texas Center for the Missing

Richardson said he had fond memories of Farias as a child, coming to his garage and eating popsicles. Richardson said he promised to one day teach the youngster how to mow a lawn.

“He was a nice little kid,” Richardson said Thursday. “I told him, ‘I’m gonna teach you how to cut your mother’s yard.'”

But once Farias’ mother, Janie Santana, reported him missing in March 2015, Richardson said he never saw the boy again, leading to sad interactions with Santana over the last eight years.

“It was always the same answer,” said Richardson, who lives across the street from Farias and Santana. “She would start crying and say they haven’t found him, and it would hurt me.”

But a woman who lives just a few doors down from the mother and son, Jeanay Wyble, 24, said she was stunned to learn Farias was “found” — because she never knew he was missing.

Home of Rudy Farias in Houston.
Rudy Farias’ home in Houston, where some neighbors were shocked to learn he had been reported missing eight years ago.Google Maps

“Everyday he comes over and talks to us,” Wyble said of Farias, who struck up a friendship with her and her ex-boyfriend.

She said that although Farias was eager to to hang out with neighbors, he wasn’t always in the best condition.

“He’s just depressed all the time. A lot of times he’s not sober,” she said. “We didn’t know he was missing. We’ve just been hanging with him.”

Farias’ mother reported him missing to police on March 7, 2015, before he came home a day later, authorities said Thursday.

But instead of clearing up the matter, Santana stuck to the story that he was missing, police said. Farias himself has had interactions with officers over the years, giving false names and birth dates, police said.

Neighbor Marisol Flores said she believes she saw Farias sitting in his front yard as recently as three weeks ago.

“I always saw that son, sitting outside or sitting in the car,” she said.

Flores wondered aloud about what household drama might have led to the apparent deception.

“I feel so bad for that young man,” Flores said. “You don’t know the people who live by you and you can’t see the the walls,” she said. This is horrible.”

Santana could not be reached at a number linked to her name and address on Thursday. Their house is set behind a gate, and it wasn’t clear Thursday afternoon whether anyone was home.

Prosecutors have declined so far to press any charges against Santana or Farias, but the investigation is ongoing, police said.

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