Investigators reopened the case in September after a conversation between Richard Harter, Lisa Harter's husband, and an Indiana State Police detective who attended the same church prompted another search of Landers' Social Security number after several others over the years yielded no sign of him, Muntz said.
That turned up a man with the same number and birthday with an address in Long Prairie, about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
Indiana State Police then contacted Minnesota law enforcement agencies, which began investigating along with the FBI and the Social Security Administration.
Minnesota officials say the grandparents — now living in Browerville under the assumed names Raymond Michael Iddings and Susan Kay Iddings — verified Landers' identity. They were known as Richard E. and Ruth A. Landers at the time of the abduction.
Now that Landers has been located, his mother is eager to talk to him, but that hasn't happened yet, Muntz said.
"What we're trying to do now is try to establish a way for Lisa and young Richard to get reacquainted," the attorney said.
Richard W. Landers Sr. also expressed interest in making contact with his son.
"I'm just thankful my boy is still alive, and I'll still get a chance to see him," he told the News-Sun. He also said he has forgiven his parents.
A woman who answered a phone number associated with the Iddingses declined a request for an interview. A couple who answered the door at their home declined to identify themselves and also refused an interview.
A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's office in Minnesota, Jeanne Cooney, said charges in such a case could be related to non-custodial kidnapping, whether the child was exploited, abused, trafficked or being used to obtain benefits.
Michael Landers and his wife, who police say are expecting a child, share a plot of land with his grandparents a few miles outside of Browerville. There are two houses and two deteriorating barns on the property, and ten cars sat in the shared driveway.
Landers works at an auto parts store in Long Prairie, but wasn't at the store Friday and an employee declined an interview.
Raymond Iddings has worked since 1999 as a herdsman at Twin Eagle Dairy in nearby Clarissa, where owner Patrick Lunemann described him as a "dedicated, faithful" employee. Lunemann said he was in shock when he read a story about the case.
Lunemann said he knew Michael slightly, as Michael stopped into the dairy occasionally.
"(Landers) works at an auto parts place. That fits him perfectly, because Ray is kind of a motorhead and Michael is the same way," Lunemann said.
The town buzzed with the news, though. Rich Wall, a retired jeweler, said some residents speculated that some people knew of Landers' history but kept quiet. He said it was the most notable news since a grisly triple homicide there in 2003.
"My grandson called last night and said, 'Long Prairie made the news again,'" Wall said.
Forliti reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writers Charles Wilson and Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis and Doug Glass in Minneapolis contributed to this report.