Rudy Farias: A timeline of the bizarre case of the Texas man ‘missing’ for eight years

Rudy Farias was reported missing on 7 March 2015, sparking an eight year search. In reality, police say he was at his mother’s house all along

Bevan Hurley
Monday 10 July 2023 11:45 BST
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Quanell X tells reporters about the 'horrific things' Rudy Farias shared with him

The discovery of a 25-year-old Texas man who had been reported missing eight years earlier was briefly welcomed as a minor miracle.

But since Rudy Farias was found with severe injuries outside of a Houston church on 29 June, the baffling story has unravelled with claims of lies, alleged abuse and greed.

Neighbours said they had seen Mr Farias at his mother Janie Santana’s house, and expressed surprise that he was regarded as a missing person.

It then emerged that Mr Farias had reportedly told investigators he was held captive and abused by his mother for year – a claim Houston police say they have no evidence of.

In a press conference on Thursday, police confirmed Mr Farias had returned home in March 2015, the day after he was supposed to have gone missing.

Police said Ms Santana had lied to them as they chased leads in the case, but that they were not pressing charges at this stage.

Here is a timeline of the perplexing case.

2011 to 2014: Childhood tragedies

Rudolph “Rudy” Farias IV was born in Houston in October 1997 to parents Rudolph Farias, a Houston police officer, and mother Janie Santana.

The young boy endured tragedy from a young age.

In 2011, his half-brother Charles Uresti, 21, was killed in a motorcycle crash when Rudy was just 13.

A private investigator hired by the Farias family told NBC’s Dateline in 2015 that Mr Farias and his mother were the first to the crash scene.

Rudy Farias reportedly had a mental age of 10 when he went missing at the age of 17
Rudy Farias reportedly had a mental age of 10 when he went missing at the age of 17 (Texas Center for the Missing)

“He watched his best friend die right in front of him,” Brenda Paradise told Dateline.

“His brother was his best friend in the world. He's just gone through so much more than anyone his age ever should.”

Then in 2014, his father took his own life while under investigation for a fake speed ticketing scheme.

An investigation by KHOU 11 found that officers were falsely claiming to have witnessed speeding infractions in order to claim overtime by testifying in court.

Mr Farias Sr had reportedly earned $158,000 in overtime in the previous three years.

Mr Farias’ aunt, Pauline Sanchez-Rodriguez, said at a press conference on Thursday that Mr Farias was understandably traumatised by the two tragedies. And that, after them, his mother began to assume control of his life.

March 2015: ‘Disappearance’

On 6 March 2015, Mr Farias reportedly left his home at around 6pm to take his two dogs for a walk near Tidwell and Park Drive in northwest Houston.

A few hours later one of the dogs returned home. The next morning, the second dog showed up, according to a missing person report.

The 17-year-old was reported missing by his mother on 7 March 2015.

A missing flyer from that year claimed Mr Farias had been diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety, and had likely stopped taking his prescribed medication at the time of his disappearance. Mr Farias was described as 5’8”, weighing about 215 pounds and having brown hair and brown eyes.

His cousin Michelle Rodriquez told the New York Post this week that although Mr Farias was 17 at the time, he had a mental age of a 10-year-old.

On 8 March 2015, it has now emerged that Mr Farias returned home.

A GoFundMe campaign set up by Rudy Farias’ mother Janie Santana raised more than $2,000
A GoFundMe campaign set up by Rudy Farias’ mother Janie Santana raised more than $2,000 (GoFundMe)

But, despite this, Ms Santana did not tell police he was no longer missing – instead keeping up the pretence for the next eight years.

On 22 March 2015, a GoFundme page was launched seeking donations to help Ms Santana in the search for her son.

“It has been over a Month and Rudy is still Missing,” it stated. “Please help us find RUDY FARIAS IV!”

Ms Santana said her son was suffering from physical and mental disabilities. The fundraiser took in $2,025, and is reportedly under investigation.

A month after the apparent disappearance, Houston police told Dateline they did not suspect foul play, and were investigating it as a missing person case.

In 2017, Ms Santana told KHOU 11 that detectives had informed her Mr Farias could have been abducted and sold to human traffickers.

2018-2022: Sightings

In 2018, Mr Farias’ cousin Cassandra Lopez called Houston police to say he had been spotted at his mother’s home, according to Click 2 Houston.

When officers showed up at Ms Santana’s home, they said they didn’t find any sign of the missing boy.

Lieutenant Christopher Zamora, a detective with Houston Police Department (HPD)’s missing persons unit, told reporters this week that officers had unspecified interactions with Mr Farias during the eight years he was “missing”. It was unclear when exactly this happened.

During those interactions, he said both mother and son gave false names and dates of birth to officers, and claimed that Mr Farias was her nephew not her son.

Ms Lopez said that her grandmother told her she would often speak with Mr Farias during the years that he was allegedly missing.

According to Click 2 Houston, neighbours would also often see Mr Farias at his mother’s home. They knew him by the name “Dolph”.

29 June 2023: Farias is ‘found’

At about 10pm on 29 June, a good samaritan found Mr Farias lying badly injured outside of the Immaculate Heart Church in southeast Houston.

Community activist Quanell X leads Rudy Farias out of a police meeting on Wednesday
Community activist Quanell X leads Rudy Farias out of a police meeting on Wednesday (ABC13)

3 July 2023: Mom celebrates ‘return’

On 3 July 2023, Ms Santana released a statement thanking “media and public for all their support”.

The statement reads: “My son Rudy Farias IV was found on Thursday, June 29th, after being missing for eight years. Currently, we do not have any additional information on Rudy’s case. What we do know is at the time of his recovery, a good Samaritan located him unresponsive and immediately called police and 911. 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. We are asking for privacy during this difficult time but will share more details as Rudy continues to heal.”

Ms Santana released a photograph of her son in a hospital bed. Her sisters would later claim the picture was from 2012.

Soon, questions began to mount about the truth of his apparent eight-year disappearance.

5 July 2023: Rudy meets investigators

On 5 July 2023, Mr Farias and Ms Santana met with detectives from Houston Police Department’s missing person unit in a hotel.

Quanell X, a prominent local activist and counsellor, said he also met with Mr Farias alone at the same hotel.

According to Quanell X, Mr Farias detailed serious allegations of physical, sexual and mental abuse he had suffered during the past eight years.

Janie Santana, the mother of Rudy Farias, has said she expected to be arrested after her son was reportedly missing for eight years
Janie Santana, the mother of Rudy Farias, has said she expected to be arrested after her son was reportedly missing for eight years (Twitter / KPRC 2 Corley Peel)

A video emerges of Ms Santana being filmed by neighbours saying she expects to be arrested.

6 July 2023: Police give update

Police hold their first press conference since Mr Farias was “found”, where they confirmed that he had in fact returned home the day after he was reported missing back in 2015 – while his mother continued to maintain he was still unaccounted for.

“Mother Janie continued to deceive police by remaining adamant that Rudy was still missing. She alleged her nephew was the person friends and family [saw] coming and going,” said Lt Zamora.

Lt Zamora said the district attorney had declined to bring charges “at this time” for making fictitious reports to police.

“Being missing is not a crime,” Mr Zamora told the press conference.

Mr Farias, who was 17 when he was first reported missing, was considered an adult under Texas state law at the time, he said.

Police also contradicted the claims of abuse, saying they had no evidence to support Quanell X’s claims.

After the press conference, Quanell X doubled down on his claims in an interview with The Independent and accused HPD of “trying to hide from conducting a shady sham investigation”.

“It’s all confusing as hell to me now,” he said. “I think they’re revictimising the kid all over again.

“I believe he needs extensive medical, psychological help and treatment.”

Pauline Sanchez, an aunt of Rudy Farias, speaks to the media outside Houston Police headquarters
Pauline Sanchez, an aunt of Rudy Farias, speaks to the media outside Houston Police headquarters (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Later that day, Mr Farias’ aunt Pauline Sanchez-Rodriguez said she was reunited with her “traumatised” nephew during an emotional press conference.

She said he no longer wants to be around his mother, and was staying with family friends.

“He’s gone through a lot and I still feel that further actions need to be taken,” she said.

Ms Sanchez-Rodriguez said he was not ready to share further details about what he had gone through.

Ms Santana meanwhile has reportedly fled the family home.

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