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Girl’s Glance Finds Missing Boy

February 15, 2002

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) _ A 4-year-old boy who disappeared in November was reunited with his mother after a second-grade girl recognized him from a poster at a Wal-Mart almost 500 miles from his home.

``Abrim’s up here,″ 8-year-old Keisha Riegert said when she saw the boy her mother had been babysitting at their home for two weeks.

Police arrested Abrim Dickey’s father, Ronald Steven Dickey, on Feb. 4 on charges of kidnapping. He was freed on bail.

He and Tina Dickey were divorced nearly a year ago. Though he didn’t have visitation rights, Tara Dickey let him see the boy. During one of those visits, the pair disappeared.

Authorities said he took the child 480 miles away to Cape Girardeau in southeast Missouri.

Tina Dickey said her ex-husband phoned her in January seeking a reconciliation, but she said she wasn’t sure if she would ever see her son again. Like Keisha, she would scan the missing-children posters, but they made her cry.

``I would see these dates,″ she said. ``Since 1983 these kids had been missing, and longer. Many days I lost hope.″

Sheriff’s investigators said Ronald Dickey, 43, took his son to work with him for two weeks until his supervisor stopping allowing it. Dickey, who was using an alias, then hired Gail Riegert, who has cared for children in her home for 20 years.

The father and son seemed happy together, Riegert said. ``They were real close. He was very good to the little boy. It was hard for us to turn him in.″

Tara Dickey and seven relatives drove all day to pick him up, arriving early Feb. 5 with presents from the Christmas Abrim had missed.

``That was by far the best day I’ve ever had at work,″ sheriff’s deputy Nancy Davis said.

Tara Dickey said she talked to her ex-husband on Wednesday.

``I think he had reached a point, and he reacted in a desperate way,″ she said.

Keisha’s classmates, meanwhile, held a ``hero party″ for her, and a classmate made her a box with the word ``hero″ on it.

``I like giving little girls and boys back to their families so they won’t miss their kids and wonder where they are,″ she said.

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