On a rainy spring day in 1996, 4-week-old Le-Zahn Williams was abducted from his home in Vallejo, Calif. The suspected kidnapper left behind his mother's murdered body, set aflame.
For years, police chased leads across the country, and desperate family members turned to television programs such as "Unsolved Mysteries" to air their plight: "Where is Le-Zahn?" they asked.
Last week, in a breakthrough that shocked relatives, police believe they found the boy, now 6 years old, living with the 22-year-old woman suspected of killing his mother. The boy was growing up in a house less than two miles from his real family's home.
"It's overwhelming," Henrietta Williams, Le-Zahn's paternal grandmother, said at a Sunday gathering of the boy's relatives. "That makes me feel really sad. We couldn't find him, and he was so close."
On Friday, Vallejo police acting on an anonymous tip arrested 22-year-old Latasha Brown on suspicion of kidnapping and murder. Brown's mother, Dolores Ann Brown, 44, also was arrested on a child concealment charge.
Police suspect that Latasha Brown may have had a relationship with the boy's father, Lathan Williams, and acted out of jealousy. Williams, a local rapper now serving a prison sentence for armed robbery, dedicated one of his CDs to his son and slain ex-girlfriend.
"He is very happy that his baby is OK," said Henrietta Williams, who notified her son over the weekend. Family members hope to be reunited this week with Le-Zahn, who they said remains in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Police told them that the boy is in good health and had attended local schools. Family members said Le-Zahn had been raised believing that Brown was his biological mother.
Latasha Brown is suspected of killing Le-Zahn's 17-year-old mother, Daphne Boyden, in May 1996 in the home that Boyden shared with her mother and son. On the day Boyden was killed, police said neighbors saw two women entering the residence less than an hour before it burst into flames.
Family members said they never lost hope during their long ordeal. Henrietta Williams kept a key chain with a picture of Le-Zahn. His maternal grandmother, Riva Lee Boyden, hung several portraits of her grandson around her home. The pictures were taken when the boy was only 16 days old.
Family members expressed concern for Le-Zahn's emotional health as he adjusts to life with his real family. But they plan to provide him a normal life, showered with love.
"I only knew him for a few days ... I don't know what he looks like now," Boyden said, "but everything is rosy, rosy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.