For the past week, there’s been a story that’s dominated Houston headlines and gained quite a bit of national attention.
It began like this: Back in March of 2015, Rudy Farias took his dogs for a walk and, according to relatives at the time, never came home. Family members reported the then-17-year-old missing.
Then, last week, it was widely reported Farias was found and returned home. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Police shared that Farias was never actually missing for very long in the first place.
Matt deGrood, who covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle, said there are still a lot of unanswered questions about what happened. However, it is clear Farias’ family was not honest with police as they continued to search for him.
“There certainly was an effort to hide what was going on. A family member in 2018 reported that Rudy was living behind someone’s home. Investigators went and checked into that and could never locate him,” deGrood said. “Police said at the press conference last week that they’d interacted with his mom and him several times over the years in between, but that they always gave fictitious names or were not up front about what was going on.”
It is unclear where Farias was and what he was up to during the eight years since he was reported missing, deGrood said.
“This is a strange story where the social media and the rumor and innuendo surrounding it has far outpaced the point where the actual investigation is,” deGrood said. “We know that he was at home with his mom for some stretch of that time. It’s not clear whether he would leave and go out and about. Some neighbors said they saw him at some point in time. So I think there are still a lot of questions about what happened.”
Police have not charged Farias’ mother with lying about her son’s whereabouts, but deGrood said the investigation is still active, and it’s unclear what past information needs to be evaluated.
“When (Rudy) was first reported missing, the investigators said there were a number of concerns — he had anxiety and PTSD and a number of other issues,” he said. “I think, given everything that’s happened since then, it’s hard to know how much credence or not give some of those descriptions because they were all coming from the family.”
Farias’ mother did not give an explanation for the years of lying to the police, though other family members have offered their thoughts, according to deGrood.
“There are a lot of theories out there as to what might be going on, spread by both extended family members who want Rudy returned to them and just by interested parties at large,” he said. “But it’s hard at this point in time to know what’s accurate and what’s not.”
Despite the lack of concrete information, deGrood said this story has captured the attention of many in Texas and beyond.
“It’s sort of a convoluted story. Part of me wonders if it’s as simple as, you know, the story was just a person comes home miraculously after being missing for eight years,” he said. “And then to watch that story sort of unravel in real time, I think it has really captivated people.”