Julian Hernandez, a child who went missing in Alabama 13 years ago, has been found alive in Ohio. According to authorities, Julian was 5-years-old when he disappeared in 2002 after being reported missing by his mother. At the time of his disappearance, it was suspected that the child’s father, who had no legal custody, had abducted him, but that argument was rejected by some. His father was supposed to be dropping his son off to preschool that day, but he never made it there.
A report from CNN regarding this unusual disappearance says that the case broke when Julian was trying to apply for college. Reportedly, he ran into problems when his Social Security number didn’t match his name and could not be verified. When the school counselor and Julian investigated the discrepancies, they discovered his name was on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database. The FBI was informed October 30, and authorities confirmed the teen’s real identity, USA Today wrote. For more than a decade, Julian had been staying with his father, Bobby Hernandez, under different names.
On Monday, the FBI’s Cleveland office contacted the Alabama police and reported that the missing child, Julian Hernandez, who is now 18, had been located in this city and that his father had been arrested. A clue came on Sunday when police in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, were contacted by the FBI in Cleveland about a missing child case.
Bobby Hernandez was arrested on Monday and accused of manipulating records and allegedly using false information to obtain a fake identification card in Ohio in 2012, court records revealed. Hernandez, 53, is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail, NBC News reports. His court-appointed attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
“I’ve been doing this 25 years and it’s something I’ve never experienced before,” said Johnny Evans, a lieutenant with the Vestavia Hills police. “They [investigators] spent tireless hours doing everything they could to try to find him.”
The police chief of Vestavia Hills, Dan Rary, said he has already informed the boy’s mother and her family that Bobby Hernandez was arrested and will face charges for his son’s kidnapping in Alabama. Police said Julian’s mother was “ecstatic” when she learned that her son was found safe and unharmed.
“That’s the reason you never give up and you keep looking,” said Evans.
One of Bobby Hernandez’s neighbors in Cleveland, Matt MeInyk, appeared surprised by what happened because he thought he was a “pretty cool guy.”
“He’s [Bobby] been here three to five years,” MeInyk told reporters. “I had absolutely no idea this was happening. His son was very quiet, and from what I know, he was a good student.”
The story of the abduction of Julian Hernandez is similar to an equally bizarre incident that took place last year. As reported by The Guardian, 9-year-old Billy Hanson was found in November of last year on Niue, a remote island in the South Pacific, nearly 5,500 miles away from his home. Billy was found unharmed on the island after he was abducted by his father in early September.
The boy’s mom reported him missing after he didn’t come back from a visit with his father in Seattle. Authorities launched an international search for the child, and he was ultimately located thousands of miles away. Billy and his father had been staying on a 38-foot sailboat. The boy’s 46-year-old father, Jeffrey Ford Hanson, was arrested by island authorities thanks to a tip from a local who recognized him from a wanted poster. He was extradited to the U.S. and faces charges of international parental kidnapping.
[Image via Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images News]