Teen Discovers He Was Kidnapped as a Child When Applying For College 13 Years Later

Teen Discovers He Was Kidnapped as a Child When Applying For College 13 Years Later Julian Hernandez at age five; Age progression of Hernandez to show what he might look like at 16 (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

When he was just five years old, Julian Hernandez disappeared.

His mother had reported him missing in August 2002 from Alabama, where it was suspected that his father, Bobby Hernandez, took him as part of a noncustodial parental abduction, the Vestavia Hills Police Department said.

Investigators tried in vain to find the child, spending “tireless hours doing everything they could to try to find him,” Vestavia Hills Police Department Lt. Johnny Evans told WVTM.

It took 13 years for an update to come in little Julian Hernandez’s case, when authorities announced he had been found safe and unharmed in Ohio.

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Julian Hernandez, now 18, was trying to apply for college when he found that his Social Security number did not match his name, Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls told WVTM.

With the help of a school counselor, the teen discovered he was on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database, authorities said.

The Cleveland FBI office received information that Julian Hernandez may be living in Ohio on October 30, a spokeswoman for the FBI said.  

Members of the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force in Cleveland, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Vestavia Hills Police Department and the Birmingham Division of the FBI worked on the case and on November 2, it was confirmed that Julian Hernandez had been found, she said.

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Bobby Hernandez (Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office)

Bobby Hernandez was arrested and charged in Cuyahoga County in Ohio with one count of tampering with records, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office said.

The charge stemmed from documentation the elder Hernandez presented at the driver’s license bureau in 2012, the spokesman said. He was held on $250,000 bond.

An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday for Bobby Hernandez for the felony offense of interference with custody, the Jefferson County District Attorney's office said. 

"The warrant concerns the taking of Julian Hernandez from the lawful custody of his mother on August 28th, 2002 from Vestavia Hill, Alabama, and the continuing interference with custody until the 18th birthday of Julian," the District Attorney's office said. 

Bobby Hernandez will be held without bond once the warrant is served and he is extradited from Ohio to Jefferson County, Alabama, the District Attorney's office said. 

His attorney, Ralph DeFranco, did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Julian Hernandez’s biological mother was notified that her son had been found, the FBI said.

The family released a statement Thursday, saying: "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."

The family declined to provide additional information and asked for privacy as they focus on the teen's well-being, ABC33-40 reported.

The FBI said at a press conference that since Julian Hernandez is 18, he will get to decide where and with whom he lives.  

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