Custody Hearing Today in Case of Illinois Boy Hidden in Wall

Custody Hearing Today in Case of Illinois Boy Hidden in WallABC News
A court in southern Illinois today will begin determining custody of Richard "Ricky" Chekevdia, the little boy found hidden in a wall at his grandmother's house two years after disappearing with his mother.

A court in southern Illinois today will begin determining custody of Richard "Ricky" Chekevdia, the little boy found hidden in a wall at his grandmother's house two years after disappearing with his mother.

It's the next step in getting the boy's life back to normal after he vanished in 2007 during a contentious custody battle between his father, Michael Chekevdia and his mother, Shannon Wilfong.

His grandmother, Diane Dobbs -- who had been charged initially with aiding and abetting the boy's disappearance --- was re-arrested Monday on a related charge.

VIDEO: Illinois court will determine custody of 6-year-old Ricky Chekevdia.Play

The arrest came hours after Dobbs, then out on $1,000 bond, professed her innocence and took "Good Morning America" on a tour of the house where authorities say Ricky, 6, was hidden behind walls and in secret rooms.

ABC's Carterville, Ill., affiliate WSIL reported today that Dobbs and her fiance, Robert Sandefur, were re-arrested for harassing a potential witness after a woman called police to say the couple had threatened the life of her son.

Wilfong, who disappeared with Ricky after Michael Chekevdia won custody of the boy two years ago, remains in custody from her initial arrest on felony child abduction charges.

Wilfong made a court appearance today where she was advised of the charges against her. She is next due in court Sept. 23 for a preliminary hearing.

Chekevdia has yet to formally reunite with his son, but said he saw him from afar at a Labor Day picnic.

"I didn't get to touch him, I didn't get to talk to him but I saw him," he said. "And it's just a great feeling to see your child playing."

Dobbs told "Good Morning America" on Monday that she did nothing wrong in helping to hide her family and keep the boy safe.

She maintains that Wilfong disappeared with Ricky after police failed to properly investigate Wilfong's claims that Chekevdia has sexually abused Ricky, a charge Chekevdia has vehemently denied.

"I've been exonerated," Chekevdia said. "I have been cleared of all wrongdoing."

Grandmother: 'We Had to Do What We Had to Do'

While police have said Diane Dobbs' house was full of hidden nooks and secret rooms where Ricky was hidden from the world, Dobbs told "Good Morning America" that "in two years time, [the boy spent] maybe five minutes" in the crawl space.

"My grandson had the run of the house, when we were outside we would go fishing, we would do weenie roasts, we've done fireworks on the 4th of July, he's helped me plant my flower garden in the back," Dobbs said in an exclusive interview from Marion, Ill.

Yet Dobbs, 51, and her fiance were charged with aiding and abetting while Richard's mother, Shannon Wilfong, 30, was charged with felony child abduction and could face at least a year in prison.

"We were on our own and we had to do what we had to do and that was make sure our grandson was safe," Dobbs said, adding that the crawl spaces were there when she bought the house 14 years ago and was used mainly for storage.

Mother and son were found huddled in a crawl space Friday by police who were acting on a tip. They said it was clear that Ricky had rarely, if ever, ventured outside. Dobbs said she put the two in the hiding space behind a dresser when she saw police gathering outside.

After Michael Chekevdia won temporary child custody rights, Wilfong accused him of sexually abusing the boy. When child welfare workers found no evidence and awarded Michael Chekevdia custody, Wilfong disappeared with their son.

Ricky is staying with family members in southern Illinois while state child welfare officials sort things out.

"I was skeptical at best that something might happen," Michael Chekevdia told "Good Morning America Weekend." "When they notified me that they had found him, you could've knocked me over with a feather."

Father Denies He Sexually Abused Son

Dobbs said this entire ordeal was orchestrated to keep father and son apart. She maintained that authorities had failed to properly investigate her daughter's claims and challenged Chekevdia to take a polygraph test.

"There's never been a thorough investigation," she said. "That's what this family wants."

Dobbs said Ricky was homeschooled by his mother and is a "very bright child."

"He's the light of my life," she said. "I've been there ever since that little boy was born."

Investigators found the house riddled with secret hiding places, including a hole in the floor and another hole carved into the wall behind a dresser.

"We let him out of the car, and he ran around like he'd never seen the outdoors," Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Stan Diggs said. "It was actually very sad."

But Diggs added, "Ricky is in very good spirits for someone who's been isolated in that house with no other outside interaction. He's a very polite, social, talkative little boy."

For the time being, Michael Chekevdia said he is happy to abide by the system and wait until child welfare workers determine that his son is ready to see him again.

"I have seen him at a distance and he looks well. ... He could look better. He's eating, he's sleeping, he's socializing very well," Chekevdia said. "And when they tell me that it's time, I'll go."

The Associated Press and ABC News' Sheila Marikar contributed to this report.