SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A Seminole County father is headed to North Carolina
Friday morning, to be reunited with his son who was reported missing.
Howard Darden Sr. got the call that his 11-year-old son, Howard Darden Jr., was safe.
"That's the best news I've heard all day. Thank you so much," said Darden.
Investigators said the mother, Angela Darden, took the boy out of school on Tuesday.
Nearby, Howard's younger brother goes to school at Lake View Elementary. But school officials there did not let him go because his father filed paperwork with the school showing he has full custody.
WFTV found out that the front desk worker who released Howard to his mother has been reassigned.
WFTV is working to find out how Angela Darden was allowed to have court papers showing she had full custody of the children when the father had paperwork showing the same thing.
The boy and his mother were found in North Carolina Thursday night.
Angela Darden was found inside a mall. Howard Darden was found inside the car in the parking lot, uninjured and in good health.
A couple who saw the news spotted the Volkswagen Beetle she was driving and noticed the Florida plates.
The vehicle, which was previously a bright yellow, had been spray painted black, authorities said.
According to investigators, Darden sent a "highly concerning text" saying she might harm herself to a family member late Tuesday night.
WFTV reporter Deneige Broom talked to Howard Darden Sr., before he left to pick up his son.
It was a very early start for them, but Darden Sr., his 10-year-old son and his fiancee were all smiles as they prepared to make the 12-hour drive to North Carolina.
Darden said he found out Tuesday that his ex-wife had cut off her ankle monitoring device. She was supposed to wear it for allegedly stalking him. Darden said he called his son's school and found out Angela Darden reportedly picked him up at Piedmont Lakes Middle School.
Deputies said that Angela Darden and the child's father had court orders from different jurisdictions granting full custody to the requesting parent.
When Angela Darden failed to show up for a court appearance Wednesday, her custody of Howard Darden expired, investigators said.
WFTV asked Darden what the first thing he says to his son will be.
"First thing I am going to say is, 'I love you. Hey, I know you've been through a lot and we are going to take baby steps," said Darden.
Darden said he won full custody of both of his children less than two weeks ago.
Investigators said Angela Darden was on GPS monitoring for an aggravated stalking incident involving the child's father.
WFTV uncovered another incident with Angela Darden from several years ago.
In May of 2007, Darden was accused of threatening at least one student and some faculty members at Jones High School.
Darden's daughter, Terri, was valedictorian, and Darden was alleged to have threatened her daughter's rival.
In response to that incident, security was tightened at the school's graduation ceremony.
Darden never faced charges because the victims did not want to prosecute.