Gregory couldn’t believe his eyes when he first saw his mother and sister, Tracy. He rushed to hug them.
“This is my mama’s Christmas gift – my whole family – this is their Christmas gift,” were Gregory’s words.
Let’s start right from the beginning. It’s 2010, and Gregory Jean Jr. is living contentedly with his mother, Lisa Smith, in sunny Orlando, Florida.
Ms. Smith and Gregory’s father had recently separated and decided to move to different states. The parents, however, had set up an informal agreement to provide Gregory and his younger brother, Samuel with sufficient funds to ensure their well-being.
Despite his parents’ decision to split, Gregory wished to maintain his relationship with his father, and kept in touch.
Many phone conversations were had when he’d returned home from school on a daily basis. Despite the problems Gregory Sr. and Lisa had, Gregory Jr. admitted his love for his father. At 13 too, it was only natural for him to feel it necessary to keep the bond with his father strong.
Later that same year, things were never going to be the same again Gregory Sr. had moved to Atlanta, Georgia and had moved on with his life, marrying a woman named Samantha Joy Davis. Whilst he loved his sons, he decided he wanted to start a new family with his new wife.
But he still felt responsibility towards his sons from his first marriage. He then suggested the pair make their way to Georgia to visit him and his new family. What a mistake that was to be for young Gregory.
The brothers Gregory Jr. and Samuel made the journey up to Atlanta and became acquainted with their new step-mom.
What would have or should’ve been a fun and new experience for the boys, turned into a nightmare. Samuel returned home to Lisa on his own.
But in an odd twist, Lisa didn’t make it known to police that her son was missing. Rather, she told Orlando court services. For a long four years, Gregory Jr. was missing. The question now is, why didn’t Lisa call the boy’s father?
Over the four-year period, it is reported that Lisa actually spoke to her son at one point, though had no idea where he was living. Seems strange that a mother wouldn’t investigate further. Even stranger, there was no contact from the father. But, of course, there’s more to the story!
Fast forward four years, to November 28, 2014. The boy had somehow managed to steal a cell phone from where he was being held, and sent a message to his family.
He sent an address, and Lisa finally got the police on board to find her missing son.
Police arrived at a fairly normal, suburban looking home – an average single-story residence located on the outskirts of Atlanta.
They then searched the property but failed to find Gregory Jr.…bizarre, right? Details later emerged that, at the time, Davis, his step-mom, had threatened Gregory Jr. to hide in the garage, behind a false wall!
Determined not to give up, Gregory’s desperate plea was heard for a second time, when he used the same phone to contact his mother once more.
By this time, Christmas had arrived, and we’re sure he was hoping for a Christmas miracle! The teen used the Magic Jack app, which allows users to call in the U.S. and Canada for free.
His quick-thinking and resourcefulness came into play and saved his life.
Gregory Jr. messaged his mother his exact location on the property, so that Lisa was able to guide the authorities to where he was being kept.
Police stormed the premises and found Gregory, who had tears in his eyes. What an ordeal.
Lisa was quickly notified and left her home immediately.His mother drove directly to Atlanta to reunite with her long-lost son, with her 19-year-old daughter, Tracy Guervil.
Gregory couldn't believe his eyes when he first saw his mother and sister, Tracy. He rushed to hug them.
“This is my mama’s Christmas gift – my whole family – this is their Christmas gift,” were Gregory’s words.
His family was incredibly grateful to the Atlanta Police Department, but Gregory remained quiet.
It perhaps was difficult for him to express the depth of his gratitude to police, for freeing him from his prison.
Gregory had suffered a tremendous trauma, it was hard to stop the tears.
TV cameras were buzzing in Atlanta, trying to get the scoop on what exactly happened in that suburban house. Soon after, the details emerged about what happened during those four arduous years…
When Gregory Jr. first arrived to see his father and new family, he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. But then the stories and lies began. Davis persuaded him to stay, and that it was better for his father financially to look after him in his home, rather than sending money to his biological mother. It even reached a point where Davis told the teenager that his mom didn’t want him anymore and didn’t want him to return home!
The first year in Atlanta took some getting used to; Gregory had been separated from his birth mother and brother, and while he was with his father, he had to live with his new stepmother and step-siblings. Enrolled at a middle school close by, it seemed that he could still lead a normal life, and on the plus side, he was closer to his father. But Davis was more scheming and manipulative than he initially thought. She turned from sweet step-mom to his captor.
Whilst his other step-siblings enjoyed the comforts that any average American teen should have, he was forced to sleep on a make-shift bed in the garage, with a thin covering for warmth. This, sadly, was just the beginning of a torment which was to last a number of years. With no money, no support from his father, and no hope of escape, Gregory Jr. was in a living hell. It seemed he could do nothing but wait it out until he could find the means to free himself.
Conditions increasingly and rapidly worsened for Gregory Jr. His step-mother Davis refused to feed him, and physically abused the teen. At the height of his humiliation, he wasn’t even able to use a proper toilet. Gregory Jr. told MailOnline in 2014, “she beat and starved me and made me go to the bathroom in a bucket,” and “they would all watch me. It was embarrassing.”
Not only was he treated as sub-human, Gregory Jr.’s life was dedicated to being “the help.” In a modern Cinderella-like turn of events, Gregory Jr.’s reunion with his father was very far from what he had anticipated. We suppose Davis thought it was pretty neat that she had her partner’s child from a former relationship, chained in her basement to be her slave.
“I felt like a maid,” he said. “I had to clean the house and yard, and if there was even a leaf out of place my step-mom would beat me with a stick.” Our hearts go out to Gregory Jr., for the terrible treatment he endured, by the hand of someone who is supposed to be one of his guardians.
The other children were able to eat, sleep in a comfortable bed, and use the bathroom whenever they pleased. They could play outside and watch television and not have a worry in the world. According to Gregory Jr., he wasn’t allowed any leisure time, including not being able to watch TV. Instead, he was punished and forced to read the dictionary, copying out lists and lists of words.
Gregory Jr., scared and alone, spent his nights wailing, praying for the day that he would make his way home.
Further to his tell-all with MailOnline, he did make an attempt to alert people to his plight. “I told my counselor at school what was happening at home and at first they believed me. They went to my house on a home visit but my step-mom hid everything so they didn’t believe me. After that, I was put on punishment for a long time and she took me out of school.”
Sadly, despite confiding in his counselor, Gregory Jr. was made out to be like ‘they boy who cried wolf’, and again fell victim to his step-mom’s abuse.
As a result of speaking out, his step-mom took him out of school, exiling him to the confines of the garage. He was prevented from enjoying Christmas with his father and step-siblings, and any gifts which were addressed to him, were given to the other children to enjoy.
How horrible it must have been to be alone, and to see gifts which may have restored his smile (at least momentarily), just given away to his step-siblings.
One of the most bizarre elements of this story is that, though Davis’ neighbors at times saw Gregory Jr. working outside of the house, it had never clicked what the situation was behind closed doors.
A neighbor reportedly told CBS Evening News that “He kept that yard immaculate, there was no evidence of distress [and] it didn’t seem like he was reaching out, like, ‘oh please help me.’”
Neighbors were “shocked” when the truth was revealed. “They were really nice people, they were open. They were like, ‘Hey, come over anytime you want.’
“It seems that Davis was careful with how she treated her neighbors and made them believe that he was simply home-schooled.
Seems quite bizarre then that Gregory Jr. didn’t try and escape on his own; clearly, he was fearful for what his step-mom may have had in store for him if he tried anything, particularly after his first failed attempt. Regardless, Gregory Jr. is now safe and sound back in Orlando with his mother Lisa and brother Samuel.
The family were extremely thankful and grateful to have their Gregory back, and in time for Christmas!
Gregory Jr.’s first statement to MailOnline was: “Whatever anyone else gets for Christmas, I don’t care,” going on to say that “this is my Christmas present, to be back with my family.”
Not only for Gregory Jr., but for his mother and family in Florida, too; to have a child disappear for four years, with no word at all, would have been a trying and traumatic experience for any parent to endure.
Back in Atlanta, his stepmother and father were feeling rather sheepish for what they put Gregory Jr. through.
The pair are awaiting trial further to their first court appearance, to decide their fate for Gregory Jr.’s long and painful ordeal.
In an incredible twist, Gregory Jr. holds no grudge whatsoever towards his step-mother and father, insisting he doesn’t wish either of them to end up behind bars.
While shocking, it seems that Gregory Jr. is just happy to be out of Atlanta and back with his family.
Gregory Jr. has expressed his gratitude towards the Atlanta police for finding him and freeing him from his prison.
It isn’t surprising that he was found shaken by the events of the past four years. However, it is astonishing that he has emerged even stronger and with a beaming smile on his face.
As soon as he returned home, Gregory Jr. made the decision to focus on getting back into a normal routine, living his life and attending school. While there will be an adjustment period, there is no doubt in his mind that he is infinitely better off in Florida. He hopes to help others one day in the future by becoming a lawyer.
More recently, other facts have come to light regarding Davis’ past, after her first court appearance. On probation, Davis has a history of punishing her own son, cutting his tongue with a pair of hot scissors. It seems that Gregory Jr. is very lucky indeed that he did not suffer in such a way. Regardless, he is grateful and glad to be home with his loving family.