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Missing Minnesota boy, father found after almost 2 weeks

James Nordrum Jr.

A missing Brookston, Minn., boy and his father have been found.

Wyatt Nordrum, 7, and his father, James Leon Nordrum Jr., 41, were found late Saturday night in a rural cabin in St. Louis County's Stoney Brook Township with the help of tips from the public, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office.

Wyatt had been missing since March 27 after allegedly being kidnapped by his father, who was embroiled in a custody battle with the boy's mother, Candice Nordrum of Fort Frances, Ont.

Nordrum Jr. was in intensive care and stable condition Sunday after surgery at St. Luke's hospital in Duluth. He suffered self-inflicted injuries to his neck, according to the sheriff's report.

Terri Port Wright, an attorney representing Nordrum Jr., said Wyatt has been reunited with his mother. She said the boy was not injured.

"He was safe the whole time," Port Wright said.

Port Wright said she didn't know how law enforcement agents were able to locate the Nordrums, who finally were found holed up in a rural cabin about five miles from Nordrum Jr.'s home.

She said it was her understanding that Nordrum Jr. injured himself when he learned he was about to be caught. Port Wright said she doesn't know how he hurt himself, but said it was not with a firearm.

The activity involved with the arrest of Nordrum Jr. and recovery of Wyatt woke Bob and Joann Anderson, who live nearby, about midnight.

"Our dog is in the basement for the night. He started barking and barking and barking," Bob Anderson said Sunday.

Anderson looked out of the couple's house and saw a van belonging to a first responder parked in his driveway. Anderson went outside and saw "eight or 10 cars in the field with flashing lights."

A helicopter later landed in the field, Anderson said.

Anderson saw a man with a flashlight approaching and asked the man to identify himself. The man turned out to be a Carlton County deputy sheriff who told Anderson that Nordrum Jr. and his son had been found nearby. Anderson said the deputy told him that Nordrum Jr. "tried to commit suicide. He tried to cut his own throat."

The couple said they had not seen anyone at the cabin recently but noted they can't see the cabin directly from their place. They said they have no idea why Nordrum Jr. would be near their property. Joann Anderson said, "We had never seen him or his son."

The father was taken into custody, and the son was recovered at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday. They were found in a remote cabin about 25 miles west of Duluth on Lost Lake near Anderson Road in Stoney Brook Township.

Nordrum Jr. was arrested and faces initial charges of kidnapping and deprivation of parental rights, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, which said additional charges could be filed, pending further investigation.

Responding by way of her attorney, Craig Hunter, Candice Nordrum declined comment Sunday.

The Fond du Lac and Cloquet police departments, Carlton County Sheriff's Office, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Anoka County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension assisted the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office in locating the missing father and son.

Candice Nordrum filed to divorce Nordrum Jr. in January 2011.

Until recently, he had full custody of his son, but on March 27, Nordrum Jr. agreed to shift all custody rights to his ex-wife in Fort Frances. Nordrum Jr. had consented to the change of custody in the face of allegations that he and his father, James Leon Nordrum Sr., 59, had planted drugs and a gun in his ex-wife's vehicle then had tipped off border agents when she was returning Wyatt for visitation in April 2011.

Nordrum Jr. was to relinquish custody of his son to Candice Nordrum at a court hearing March 27, but he never showed. The disappearance of Wyatt and Nordrum Jr. prompted a statewide Amber Alert.

Repeated messages left on the cellphone and at the residence of Nordrum on Sunday day were not returned.