Grandmother of Hidden Boy Denies Wrongdoing; Faces New Charges

chekevdia/ABC News

The grandmother of a 6-year-old boy who was found huddled in a hiding space along with his mother faced new charges today in the alleged abduction, just hours after she said she did nothing wrong in helping to hide her family and keep the little boy safe.

While police have said Diane Dobbs' house was full of hidden nooks and secret rooms where Richard "Ricky" Chekevdia 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.

Dobbs was out of jail after posting $1,000 bond when she spoke to "GMA" today, but was rearrested along with her fiance this afternoon on charges of harassing a witness.

A spokesman at the Franklin County, Ill., Sheriff's Office refused to identify the witness who was allegedly harassed, but said Dobbs and her fiance, who police also declined to identify, would remain in jail until their court hearing on the new charges.

Before the new arrest, Dobbs told "GMA" that she does not plan to plead guilty to any charges.

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

Ricky Chekevdia and Wilfong disappeared in November 2007 in the middle of a heated custody battle with the boy's father, who Wilfong had accused of sexually abusing their son.

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.

Father Denies He Sexually Abused Son

Ricky is staying with family members in southern Illinois and has yet to reunite with his father 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."

But 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.