5-Year-Old Child Abducted 13 Years Ago Found In Cleveland While Trying To Apply For College, Father Arrested

In August 2002, a frantic mother reported her son missing. The boy was only 5 years of age, and though it was suspected that it was his father who abducted the child, the pair had not been found until almost a decade later. Julian Tiberius Hernandez was reported missing 13 years ago from Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and thankfully, police reported that he has been found safe and unharmed as of Monday. He was living in Cleveland.

On November 1, FBI agents contacted the Vestavia Hills Police Department to report that young Julian, now 18 years old, had been found living in Cleveland with his father, Bobby Hernandez, both living under false names. Bobby Hernandez was taken into custody and is being held for a $250,000 bail bond. The elder Hernandez faces multiple charges in both Jefferson County, Alabama, and Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, related to the abduction of his son in 2002 as well as for falsifying documents. Thirteen years ago, Hernandez was supposed to drop off his 5-year-old son at preschool but never did. Instead, according to missing child database the Charlie Project, on August 28, 2002 the father reportedly packed some of the boy’s toys and clothes, emptied several different bank accounts he owned, and fled. Hernandez did not have custody of Julian.

When Julian’s mother reported him missing Bobby was suspected and his kidnapping labelled that of a non-custodial parent abduction. According to Fox 8 Cleveland locating and positively identifying the child over 13 years later was due to a joint operation by members of the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force in Cleveland,the Birmingham Division of the FBI, the Vestavia Hills Police Department and also with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

For years, Bobby and Julian Hernandez lived under false names, and no one around them were aware of their real identities; in fact, not even Julian recalled the fact that his father had abducted him. It was not until the 18-year-old began applying to colleges that it became known to him that the Social Security Number his father had provided to him was not verifiable. The young man reportedly turned to his school counselor for assistance, and their path led them to locating Julian on the database of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database. Special Agent Vicki Anderson of the FBI’s Cleveland, Ohio, division said that this search is what led to them receiving information that the missing child was in Cleveland. This was on October 30, and it was after this that the different agencies joined together to identify Julian.

Besides the falsification of the documents that allowed 53-year-old Bobby Hernandez to keep his son from his mother for over 13 years while still allowing the child to go to school, the state of Ohio is charging him for a different case of falsifying documents. Joseph Frolik, the communications director of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, said the charge for tampering with records being brought against Hernandez is unrelated to the abduction; it is actually because in 2012 he gave false information to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles in order to obtain a driver’s license.

AL.com reported that the investigation into the crimes of Bobby Hernandez is still ongoing, and it has been suggested that he may face additional charges. Vestavia Hills Police Chief Dan Rary issued a statement on Wednesday, thanking all the various agencies that coordinated together in order to find and positively identify Julian Hernandez. It turns out the pair have been in that state the entire time.

13 years after her 5-year-old child was abducted, Julian’s mother has finally received the good news that her son has been found safe and healthy in Cleveland, Ohio. The mother is said to have been excited and very relieved, but has stated she is not yet ready to speak publicly.

[Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Hardison Tweet]