CLEARFIELD, Utah - He ran away from his home in Michigan more than 30 years ago and died in Utah after living with a convicted felon. Now, Clearfield Police plan to exhume the teenager's remains to return him to his real family.
Even though Clyde Lee Jourdan died decades ago, his mother had no idea. Until last year, she still thought he was alive.
“I would say, please pray that someday I find my son and I kept doing this over and over,” said Mary Hagadus, Lee Jourdan's mom.
Mary Hagadus is battling breast cancer for the second time. Through it all, she said the sharpest pain was not knowing where her son had been for more than three decades. Clyde Lee Jourdan was prone to running away. In 1979, at age 17, he left his home in Belding, Michigan and turned up in Clearfield, Utah.
Robert Beeler took the teen off the streets, legally changed his name, forged his social security number and Beeler told family members a lie.
"He adopted Lee Michael Beeler, that he found him hitchhiking," said Lt. Kelly Bennett with Clearfield Police Department.
Three years later, in 1982, the teen died in Beeler's driveway when a car fell on him.
"It was investigated as an accident," Lt. Bennett said.
Since a missing person's report had never been filed, the teen was simply buried at Clearfield cemetery, no questions asked. Twenty years later, Robert Beeler was convicted of molesting children and his kids discovered documents showing Lee Beeler, who they thought was their stepbrother, was really Clyde Lee Jourdan from Michigan. In 2013, through social media, Beeler's kids found Jourdan's birth mother.
"They found a Facebook page that said, 'help us find the family of Clyde Lee Jourdan' and that put the two families into contact," Bennett said.
That's how Mary Hagadus learned the painful truth.
“Not knowing my son had been dead all these years,” she said “And I thought, my son does have a good life.”
Police are confident Lee Jourdan is buried in Clearfield. Investigators hope to exhume his remains by the end of August and send him home to his mother.
"It will still feel empty because I always wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him how much I loved him," Hagadus said.
Final arrangements for an exhumation are still being made, but once Jourdan’s remains are back in Michigan, his mom said he'll be cremated and she'll hold a memorial ceremony at a park where he loved to fish. Mary Hagadus said her son would've been 51 this year, and while police will never be able to prove it, she suspects Robert Beeler was involved in the teen's death. He died in prison in 2012.