NOTE: The following article contains disturbing content. Please read at your own discretion.
Rudolph (Rudy) Farias IV, the teen who went “missing” eight years ago in Houston, Texas, said he was “brainwashed” by his mother, who allegedly coerced him into hiding in their home for nearly a decade.
Farias, who was reported missing at 17 years old, gave his first-ever interview to Fox 26 Houston this week in an attempt to quell the massive international speculation that has surrounded his case.
The now-25-year-old man was found lying wounded and unconscious in front of a church in southeast Houston earlier this month. After he was identified, reports emerged that Farias’ mother, Janie Santana, had physically and sexually abused her son in their home while he was considered a missing person. (Farias denies any sexual assault ever occurred.)
In the interview, Farias — whose face is blurred — said he’s been “stuck at home” for the last eight years. He said Santana never locked him in a room or forcibly restrained him, though he still felt that he could not leave the house.
“I had free will to leave, it just felt like brainwashing, honestly,” he said.
Farias became audibly emotional as he claimed his mother “manipulated” him into believing he would be arrested if he left the house and was identified by police. He said the experience felt like “Stockholm syndrome,” a condition where people develop strong psychological bonds with their captors.
Farias said his mother was the only person and his only support system after the untimely death of his older brother in an accident in 2011.
When family members would visit the house, Farias said he was made to hide. He said he would listen to his family “be happy and cheerful on the other side of a f—ing door.” He also claimed while his grandmother — who had dementia and a myriad of other health issues — was alive and living with him and his mother, she tried to tell other family members about Farias’ presence in the home.
For the eight years he was “missing,” Farias said he was “studying” online to learn about different cultures and religions.
Several times throughout the interview Farias apologized for crying. He continually referred to an “algorithm” in the universe that inspires him to feel different emotions when he looks at different colours around him.
“It’s like I lived in a prison; it’s like I lived in a f—ing jail my whole life. I just wanted to be free,” he said through tears. “I wanted to have my own job. I just wanted to live my life. I just wanted to love somebody and have someone who would actually love me.”
Farias said his mother first started to manipulate him after he got a speeding ticket as a teenager. He believed the police would arrest him if they discovered where he was.
Farias also partially confirmed claims made by local activist Quanell X, who after speaking to Farias last week, told reporters that he was often made to sleep in his mother’s bed. Farias claimed he could not remember why Santana insisted he sleep next to her, though he said the relationship was not sexual. Instead, Farias said Santana continually “pushed my boundaries.”
X also claimed Santana would make Farias go to work for her as a nighttime security guard, which Farias confirmed. He said he worked 12-hour night shifts and was paid only US$60 (nearly C$80) per shift.
Farias said he does not want any contact with his mother.
“Leave me alone. Just let me live my life. I want to be happy and I’m happy now. I’m working on being happy,” Farias said in a message directed to his mother.
For now, Farias said he is “trying to stay positive and keep my mentality straight, honest and true.”
Since Farias was discovered in front of the church, reports have emerged that his mother collected more than US$2,000 (about C$2,636) in GoFundMe donations to search for her son. Farias denied having knowledge of his mother accepting money. Santana has allegedly been permanently banned from using GoFundMe.
There have been no charges laid against Santana. Houston police are still investigating and said authorities would release more information publicly as it emerges.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.