Journalist digs into bizarre case of missing Houston man, Rudy Farias, who was never missing

Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 5:20 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Local News Live sat down with Insider’s senior correspondent Laura Italiano to unpack this missing persons case full of twists and turns.

“Well, it didn’t add up almost from the very first day,” she said. “The mother filled out an intake form that had the wrong birthday for her son, saying that he was 17, not 18.”

Italiano says that form was when mom, Janie Santana, first reported her son missing back in 2015.

It was June 29th, 2023 when now-25-year-old Rudy Farias, was found outside a Houston church. But according to new information from the Houston Police Department, he may never have been missing in the first place.

So, where was Farias for eight years?

Italiano spoke with four private investigators who contributed to the original missing persons case, and said they had concerns with the information they received from Santana.

One investigator told Insider, searchers found an asthma inhaler and backpack at the scene of Farias’ disappearance that his family said were his, but after investigating, police found they weren’t. Rudy never had asthma and the schoolwork belonged to an unknown elementary schooler.

His mom didn’t provide a recent picture for Farias’ missing poster, instead giving police one from when he was 14. “One of the private investigators told me that it was almost as if she was trying to portray him as a vulnerable young, younger kid in hopes of, you know, raising empathy for him and they suspect raising money,” said Italiano.

At a press conference on July 6, 2023, Houston Police said Farias returned home the day after his mother Janie Santana filed the report, but that she continued to deceive police. She claimed the boy who multiple neighbors and relatives reported seeing in and around her house was her nephew.

Santana filed the report on March 7, 2015. Farias returned home on March 8, 2015, according to police. Which begs the question why, on March 22, did a woman named Julissa Bravo start a GoFundMe campaign in search of Farias?

Bravo’s connection to the family is unknown but according to Newsweek, the campaign’s earnings went directly to Santana. By the time the last donation was received, Santana accumulated $2,025 from the fundraiser, GoFundMe told Newsweek earlier this week. (

The article goes on to say that the company has since removed the fundraiser and permanently banned Santana from the platform, preventing her from creating future campaigns. It also discussed possible legal action in the future.

“Our trust and safety team takes swift action against those who exploit the generosity of our community, including the outright removal of a fundraiser, banning an account for violating our terms of service, and even pursuing potential legal recourse,” a GoFundMe spokesperson told Newsweek.

Another question in the case: what happened during those eight years Farias was “missing”?

Italiano says activist Quanell X spoke to the press on July 5, “saying that Mr. Farris had been drugged and sexually abused by his mother for much of the eight years that she was pretending he was missing.”

As he made the statement, Farias stood next to him with a towel obscuring his face.

Houston Police disputed X’s statements, saying they had not heard any explicit or implied statements of assault during the interview, though the department says they are still investigating.