Mother hopes to bring body of missing child back home

KENT COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM) -- A West Michigan mother, whose son disappeared 34 years ago, has finally learned his fate. Mary Hagadus held out hope that her son would come home, but she learned he died in 1982 and had been living with a convicted child molester.

The oldest of five children, Lee Jourdan, was a habitual runaway. His first attempt was in the 2nd grade. "He said 'it's not because you're a bad parent, mom-- I don't know why I run away. I guess I'm always looking for something I haven't found,'" Hagadus recalled Lee telling her.

As a single mother, Mary worked part-time jobs and struggled to support her family. She admits it was a tough life for Lee and her other children. In 1980, when Lee was 17, he ran away again. This time, because of his age, and history, Mary says Belding Police wouldn't take a report. She waited and prayed he would come home, just like he had done in the past. "And I could take him and tell him how much I loved him and how much I missed him. I never got to."

In 2013 Mary received a message on Facebook from a Utah woman who said that Lee had died in a car accident in 1982. He was buried at a cemetery, in Clearfield, Utah. The name on his grave says Lee Beeler, Beloved Son of Robert Beeler. When Mary called Clearfield Police, they confirmed a man named Robert Beeler had told them Lee was his stepson. "He says this man was his stepfather and said his wife was the biological mother of Lee. They used that for the death certificate," Mary said.

In 2003 Robert Beeler was convicted of molesting a child. He spent time in prison and died in 2012. The woman that contacted Mary told her she found out that Lee wasn't Robert's son in 2002 and wanted Mary to know the truth. Robert Beeler had taken in Lee shortly after he ran away from Michigan. Mary immediately sent pictures of her son to Clearfield Police to prove that his real name was Lee Jourdan. "They took and verified that was, yes, the same person buried in the grave."

Mary is now in the process of trying to get Lee's body brought back to Michigan. There are several legal hurdles, but she's determined to bring him home. "I can't imagine him wanting to be buried under a child molester's name. He always got back in touch with me. So, I can't imagine him not wanting to be with us."

Mary is getting help from the City of Clearfield. City attorney, Brian Brower, is getting the necessary affidavits to prove that Lee Beeler is actually Lee Jourdan. Brower says he will petition the court, asking that the body be exhumed and eventually returned to Michigan.


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