Grand Forks boy back home after six years

A Grand Forks boy who has been missing for about six years has been found and is back in Kamloops with his father.

A Grand Forks boy who has been missing for about six years has been found and is back in Kamloops with his father.

Valor Howell went missing from Grand Forks back in December of 2004 and was found in the Phoenix, Ariz. area – he is now 10-years of age.

The boy’s father, Garrett Taylor, was relieved that his son had been found.

Taylor told the Grand Forks Gazette yesterday that Valor was back in Kamloops. They were having a homecoming for him and helping him get reacquainted with his family.

“He was a bit shy and awkward at first but he’s settling in nicely,” Taylor said.

“He’s spending a lot of time with his sisters right now; spending the day with them and just getting to know them. We’re getting to know him. We went shopping and things of that nature.”

When he first saw Valor, Taylor said he wasn’t sure what to say.

“I showed him some pictures from the last time we’d seen him and how well we were getting along and how happy he was,” he said.

“He could see how happy he was in the pictures and that just opened the door for more conversation.”

Garrett now has sole custody of the boy in Canada.

“We’re going to keep a close eye on him,” he said.

He said that next they will seek out counseling.

“To help with the transition,” he explained. “Then we’ll get him enrolled for school next year.”

Garrett said he learned that his son likes playing sports like soccer, hockey and baseball and so will be looking to get him into that.

Valor and mother Jamie Howell went missing during a custody dispute at the time and there is a Canada-wide arrest warrant for Jamie Howell for abduction.

A call to the Chandler, Ariz. police department has not yet been returned.

Garrett said that after all these years going by with no news of Valor’s whereabouts, it was difficult not to lose hope.

“I was starting to feel a little bit defeated,” he said.

“The Grand Forks (RCMP) were the first ones to contact me,” Taylor said last week.

“Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison contacted me and said that Valor had been located in Arizona. At first I wasn’t too excited because I had (possible) locations given to me in the past and then they just don’t pan out – to be honest, I just thought it was another one of those.”

He says that before he had a chance to look into the matter, Const. Nancy Martin from the Ottawa RCMP contacted him.

“She handles foreign affairs and she informed that he’s not just been located, he’s actually in protective custody and they are in the (process) of returning him to me (in Kamloops).”

Taylor went down to Arizona on Friday (June 3) and returned with his son Monday.

He said that Valor met with social services last         Thursday and he was being assessed at that time.

The RCMP referred enquiries to the Department of Justice, which declined comment citing it did not have access to incident reports.

Garrett added a message that he wanted to tell to  parents who are missing their children and are starting to feel that they will not come back.

“Never give up hope,” he said. “Keep looking and try everything you can. Never give up.”