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Forum Communications Co., Published April 08 2012

Missing Minn. boy found safe; father hospitalized

DULUTH, Minn. – A nearly two-week search for a missing boy and his father ended late Saturday night with the boy recovered safely, and the father – who allegedly kidnapped his son – hospitalized with self-inflicted wounds.

Wyatt Nordrum, 7, of Brookston, and his father, James Leon Nordrum Jr., 41, were found in a rural cabin in St. Louis County’s Stoney Brook Township with the help of tips from the public, according to the sheriff’s office.

Wyatt had been missing since March 27 after being taken by his father, who was embroiled in a custody battle with the boy’s mother, Candice Nordrum of Fort Frances, Ont.

Nordrum Jr. was in stable condition in intensive care Sunday after surgery at St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth. He sustained self-inflicted injuries to his neck, according to the sheriff’s report.

Candice Nordrum, who had filed for divorce from Nordrum Jr. last year, declined interview requests on Sunday, but she did issue a statement through her attorney, Craig Hunter, about what she called “the trauma in my life and the life of my son.”

“Wyatt is home safe. He will begin school tomorrow and have some sense of normalcy in his life again. I have no comment as to the state of my husband.

“I just keep praying and forgiving. The Lord will help us through,” she said.

Terri Port Wright, an attorney representing Nordrum Jr., confirmed that Wyatt had been reunited with his mother and that the boy was not injured.

“He was safe the whole time,” Port Wright said.

When Wyatt first went missing, the sheriff’s office said Nordrum Jr. had “indicated he would harm (the) child if he lost custody,” though Nordrum Jr.’s family disputed that.

Port Wright said it was her understanding that Nordrum Jr. injured himself when he learned that he was about to be caught. She said she doesn’t know how he hurt himself, but said it was not with a firearm.

Law enforcement agents working to arrest of Nordrum Jr. and to recover Wyatt woke Bob and Joann Anderson, who live nearby, about midnight.

“Our dog is in the basement for the night. He started barking and barking and barking,” Bob Anderson said.

Anderson looked outside and saw eight or 10 cars in the field with flashing lights. He saw a man with a flashlight approaching, who turned out to be a Carlton County deputy sheriff who told Anderson that Nordrum Jr. and his son had been found nearby. Anderson said the deputy told him that Nordrum Jr. “tried to commit suicide. He tried to cut his own throat.”

Nordrum Jr. was arrested and faces initial charges of kidnapping and deprivation of parental rights, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.

Duluth News Tribune

Investigations Editor Brandon Stahl and staff writers Steve Kuchera and Peter Passi contributed to this report.