‘It’s overwhelming’ – Father thankful for son’s safe return in Marshall County

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ARAB, Ala. - A woman and her 8-year-old son have returned home after disappearing for three days.  Police say Belinda Ann Miller Curvin returned home with her son, Wyatt Ray Sanford, on Thursday morning.

Curvin arrived at the police department around 10:15 a.m. She told police she had taken Wyatt to Florida.  He was turned over to his father who has full custody at this time.

The boy's father, Billy Joe Sanford, spoke publicly Thursday afternoon for the first time about the week's events.  He said he is relieved to have his son home, safe.

Billy Joe Sanford sits with his son, Wyatt. The 8-year-old returned home to Arab, Alabama safely on Thursday morning after being missing for three days. (Photo: Laura Christmas/WHNT News 19)

Billy Joe Sanford sits with his son, Wyatt. The 8-year-old returned home to Arab, Alabama safely on Thursday morning after being missing for three days. (Photo: Laura Christmas/WHNT News 19)

"It's overwhelming," Sanford said.  "Any time your kid is gone, in any danger... talking to him on the phone was the best feeling in the world.  He told me Dad, I'm coming home."

As Sanford and his lawyer spoke, Wyatt played a game of catch in the background.  He looked relaxed and happy.

Sanford said when he picked Wyatt up this morning, Wyatt wanted to go to school.  They drove to Brindlee Mountain Primary to say hi to staff and students, but came home for the day.

Police say the mother will not face charges.  Sanford's lawyer, Stephen Williams, would not discuss the situation with Curvin, only asking people to pray for her.

"This is a sad day, painful day for Wyatt's mother. Very embarrassing. Let us think of her on a day like this as well," said Williams.

Curvin's friends tell WHNT News 19 they are doing that. And more importantly, they're also here for her during this difficult time.

"She loves Wyatt very much. That is her baby and she would do anything for him," commented Nikki Schrader. "We just want her to know she has our support, and if she gets ready and she needs us, we're here."

"This is the beginning of the process, not the end," Williams added. "We're glad to work through that process with Wyatt's mother. But for now, we have a stable, safe positive situation for Wyatt."

Williams thanked police, the news media and the public for helping spread the word about Wyatt's disappearance and bringing him home.

"There is no doubt that your work on this story, and to everyone who shared the story on social media. You can never know how much you were part of this process, how much you helped bring Wyatt home safely," said Williams.

The wait

Police said they talked with Wyatt and his mother several times on Wednesday, urging the two to return home.

The boy's disappearance on Monday prompted an Emergency Missing Child Alert.  Police say Curvin unenrolled her son from Brindlee Mountain Primary School.  Sanford's father, Billy Joe Sanford, reported him missing that evening.

Both parents had custody of Wyatt until Tuesday, when a Marshall County Circuit Judge granted Sanford primary custody.  The parties are due in court next month.

Because Belinda Curvin shared custody of Wyatt at the time, an Emergency Missing Child Alert was issued and not an Amber Alert.  Arab Police called in extra officers as if that were the situation, though.

"We used the same criteria as an Amber Alert, because we didn't want to be understaffed in case we had a large influx of calls," said Arab Assistant Police Chief Shane Washburn.