Julian Hernandez: Alabama Teenager Found Safe 13 Years After Disappearance

Alabama teenager Julian Hernandez was found safe on November 1, 13 years after he was initially reported missing.

Hernandez, who is now 18 years old, was only five when he was reportedly taken by his father, 53-year-old Bobby Hernandez, from Birmingham, Alabama. According to Fox 8 Cleveland, Bobby was supposed to be taking Julian to preschool, but he never arrived, and Julian was never seen again… until now. On Sunday, November 1, Julian Hernandez was found safe in Northeast Ohio.

After Julian disappeared with his father, his mother reported him missing. At the time, the police assumed Julian was taken by Bobby as a non-custodial parental abduction. While they spent man-hours trying to find Julian, it wasn’t until he attempted to apply to college that he found out he was in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

“I’ve been doing this 25 years and it’s something I’ve never experienced before,” said Lt. Johnny Evans, of Vestavia Hills police. “They (investigators) spent tireless hours doing everything they could to try to find him,”

Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls said they located Hernandez after he tried to apply to college but wasn’t able to because his social security number didn’t match his name, WPMT 13 reports.

“My understanding is that he didn’t know his birthday. He didn’t even know his own name. He was going by something else,” Evans said.

Special Agent Vicki Anderson of the FBI’s Cleveland, Ohio Division said they received a phone call about Julian on October 30. Members of the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Vestavia Hill Police Department, and the Birmingham Division of the FBI were later able to locate and positively identify Julian. They arrested Bobby, who is being charged in Cuyahoga County in connection with the abduction. Bobby will also face charges from Jefferson County, Alabama, for the abduction from 2002. He made his first appearance in Cuyahoga County Court on Wednesday, and his bond was set at $250,000. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 12. The investigation is ongoing, and Bobby may face future charges at a later date.

Julian’s mother was immediately notified that her son had been found. According to Evans, she was “ecstatic” to hear the news.

“Over the years there have been hundreds of sightings. You know, ‘He’s here, he’s here, he’s here.’ We check it out and it’s not him or he’s not there,” Evans said. “So she was very excited to hear that there was another tip, just apprehensive. When we confirmed it, she was extremely excited.”

A representative for Julian Hernandez’s mother released a statement on her and her family’s behalf, asking for their privacy during this time.

“Our family was overjoyed this week to locate Julian and learn that he is safe. We want to thank everyone for their prayers and support during Julian’s disappearance. Although we appreciate the interest our story has generated, we will have to decline any requests for interviews or additional information at this time. We ask that the media respect our privacy as we focus on Julian’s well-being during this difficult time in his life.”

The authorities said Julian was safe and unharmed at the time of his discovery. Apparently, he had been living in Cleveland with his father since he was reported missing in August 2002. Bobby is said to have taken money from a bank account and several of Julian’s possessions, including a stuffed orca whale and a soft baby afghan, before fleeing the town with his son.

[Photo via Twitter]