An Amber Alert was issued for Ari Yanitan Aguilar-Castillo overnight after he was thought to be abducted by a white 45-year-old man wearing a white shirt and a red hat.
A family friend said the boy's mother went to hang clothes around the back of her apartment around 11 p.m. Wednesday and thought Ari slipped out the front door.
The mother of seven said she thought someone she did not recognize hanging around outside was involved in her child's disappearance.
Police issued the Amber Alert with the unknown man's description, but canceled it a few hours later when the boy appeared.
"He just came out of nowhere and we said, 'where were you,'" Ari's brother Nestor Aguilar said. "He came to show us. He said he was hiding on top of the box."
The boy was apparently hiding in his mother's closet all night.
"He was playing hide and seek with my brother, I think that's why," Nestor said. "Like five police checked and my mom, they couldn't find him."
"I thank God and the Virgin Mary that my son appeared," his mother said. "He said he was sleeping. I'm so glad now and happy about my son."
His mother and his six brothers and sisters said Ari didn't say anything when he appeared, he just looked tired.
"We were scared we couldn't find him and mom was crying cause she didn't know where he was," Nestor added.
Police have not commented on the case.