Father, son to reunite


PITTSFIELD -- More than two years after his then-5-year-old son disappeared from his home, a Pittsfield man is hoping to be reunited with the boy today -- in Kansas.

Ricky Rodriguez Jr., now 8, was located on Tuesday by authorities in Americus, Kan., through the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

"It was amazing; I couldn't believe it," Richard Rodriguez Sr. told WSHM-TV in Springfield on Tuesday. "There was no sign I was ever going to get him back."

The elder Rodriguez was en route to Kansas late Tuesday in hopes of retrieving his son from the Lyon County Sheriff's Office once some paperwork was ironed out.

The circumstances of the boy's recovery remained unclear Tuesday night. It also was not clear whether the boy's mother, Tina Marie Helfer, is facing charges.

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The boy has been missing since Feb. 3, 2008, when Rodriguez returned home to find that his girlfriend was gone -- as well as their son and all his son's belongings.

After extensive efforts through his Pittsfield attorney, Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Rodriguez finally got the Massachusetts Probate Court to rule that he had full legal and physical custody last November.

Once that ruling came through, Del Gallo said, he contacted the Massachusetts State Police, asking them to include young Ricky in the database of missing and exploited children.

"They seemed reluctant, but they must have finally done it," Del Gallo said Tuesday night.

Rodriguez and Helfer had been in a relationship since the early 1990s. After she apparently left with their son, Rodriguez found that she started a relationship with a man in Kansas on the Internet, and had gone to be with him.

"I just miss my son," Rodriguez said Tuesday.


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