PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wis. - Azariah Petrick went missing, seemingly without a trace, for months until one man spoke up after seeing the boy on a missing poster.
After an agonizing summer, the boy and his mother are reunited.
With a smile and an imagination that could fade away the fog, Azariah is lighting up the world around him and putting a twinkle back in his mom's eye.
"It's amazing, I can hardly believe it," said Abigail Petrick, Azariah's mother.
It wasn't easy getting to where they are now, though.
The 4-year-old boy's parents share custody. On July 22, when the boy's father was scheduled to return Azariah to his mother, he never showed.
"A lot of nights crying, praying he'd still fit in his bed when he got home, that he'd still be that size," Abigail said. "Every day's been an eternity."
Pleasant Prairie police had been searching for the boy since then. They said the boy's father -- 30-year-old Markanthony Petrick -- was trying to "go off the grid."
For three months, Markanthony and Azariah had vanished. Thanks to a good Samaritan, though, this story ends happily.
Monday night, Oct. 19, more than 350 miles away from home -- just outside of Traverse City, Michigan -- a Michigan man recognized Azariah after seeing his missing poster on Facebook.
"I will be forever grateful to him," said Abigail, of the man who spotted her son and called authorities.
Azariah was found safely in a Michigan motorhome with his father, who was consequently arrested.
Abigail is now driving home the importance of taking notice when a child goes missing.
"This is what brought Azariah home, and it can do the same for a lot of other children out there," Abigail said.
While the case did not warrant an Amber Alert, because it wasn't believed the boy's life was in imminent danger, police said that does not mean the situation was any less serious.
"While some people think, 'Hey it's a custody deal, the child's not in danger,' you never know what psychological harm is being brought in a situation like that," said Pleasant Prairie Police Chief David Smetana.
Azariah's father is being held in Michigan but will be extradited to Kenosha County where he faces charges for interfering with custody beyond visitation.