SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A Seminole County father was reunited with his son in North Carolina Friday after his son was reported missing earlier this week from Orange County.
The boy's father, Howard Darden Sr., said he learned Tuesday that his ex-wife, Angela Darden, 45, had cut off her ankle monitoring device and picked their son up from school.
The mother had been put on GPS monitoring two weeks ago after being arrested for allegedly stalking her estranged husband.
According to investigators, Angela Darden sent a "highly concerning text" to a family member late Tuesday night saying she might harm herself.
Howard Darden Sr. said he called his son's school to find the boy's mother had already picked him up.
An employee at the school was reassigned for that mistake.
On Thursday, Howard Darden Jr. and his mother were spotted several states away in North Carolina.
Witnesses who saw the report on television spotted the two in a mall parking lot near the Virginia border. Darden was found inside a mall and the boy inside a car in the parking lot.
The witnesses said they spotted Angela Darden's Volkswagen Beetle and noticed the Florida plates. The vehicle, which was previously bright yellow, had been spray-painted black, authorities said.
Angela Darden made a court appearance in North Carolina on Friday and will eventually be brought back to Seminole County.
The boy's father said he doesn't think his son knew what was going on was wrong.
"I'm pretty sure he's got a lot of questions. He's shook up. I don't think he really understood the ramifications of everything as it was going along," said Howard Darden Sr.
Angela Darden will be facing a slew of problems when she returns to Seminole County for cutting off an ankle monitor before fleeing and will likely face charges after taking the boy when she was on a no-contact order.
Deputies said Angela Darden and the child's father had court orders from different jurisdictions granting full custody to the requesting parent.
On Aug. 9, Howard Darden Sr. filed and received an injunction against his ex-wife in Seminole County, keeping her away from him and their two children.
Deputies served Angela Darden with the injunction on Aug. 13, but two days later, she went to the Orange County Courthouse and filed an injunction against her ex-husband.
In the paperwork, she included threatening notes she claimed were from Howard Darden Sr. The injunction was granted, so she used it to get access to her son while he was at school, authorities said.
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the court can't be expected to conduct an investigation for a temporary injunction and Angela Darden likely knew that.
"That comes later when there's a hearing to determine whether or not that temporary injunction should be made permanent," said Sheaffer.
Angela Darden was supposed to have a hearing in Orange County on Wednesday, where evidence presented could have exposed her, but she took off on Tuesday with her son.
When Angela Darden failed to show up for a court appearance, her custody of Howard Darden expired, investigators said.
Channel 9 learned the front desk employee at Piedmont Lakes Middle School was reassigned after she let the boy go with his mother.
Nearby, Howard's younger brother goes to school at Lake View Elementary, but school officials there didn't let him go with his mother because his father filed paperwork with the school showing he had sole custody.