CLEVELAND — A child reported missing 13 years ago in Alabama was found here earlier this week, and the now-teenager discovered his status himself, authorities said
Julian Hernandez, now 18, had been living here with his father, Bobby Hernandez, under different names. But when the teen began applying to colleges, he learned that the Social Security number that his father gave him could not be verified, according to WVTM-TV, Birmingham, Ala.
"I've been doing this 25 years and it's something I've never experienced before," Lt. Johnny Evans, an officer in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills, told WVTM. Investigators "spent tireless hours doing everything they could to try to find him."
With help from his school counselor, Julian Hernandez found himself on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database. The FBI was informed Oct. 30, and authorities confirmed the teen's real identity.
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He was unharmed. His father was arrested and charged with tampering with records.
Bobby Hernandez, 53, is accused of providing false information in March 2012 to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to obtain a fake identification card. He is being held on $250,000 bond in Cuyahoga County and also will face charges almost 650 miles away in Alabama for his son's abduction when he is extradited.
Bobby Hernandez, 53, of Cleveland is being held on
Bobby Hernandez, 53, of Cleveland is being held on false records charges but is expected to face charges in connection with the kidnapping of his son in 2002 in Alabama. (Photo: Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Prosecutor's Office)
In August 2002, Julian Hernandez's mother told Vestavia Hills that her 5-year-old's father had agreed to take the boy to preschool, but the pair never returned, according to the Birmingham (Ala.) News. The city's police department determined that the father had withdrawn cash from his bank accounts and fled, taking some of the child's possessions with him.
Police classified the crime as a non-custodial abduction.
The family lived on Cleveland's west side. A woman and two other children also lived in the home, according to the Cleveland Division of the FBI.
"He's (Bobby) been here three to five years," said Matt MeInyk, the Hernandez family's neighbor, calling the father a "pretty cool guy." "I had absolutely no idea this was happening. His son was very quiet, and from what I know, he was a good student."
No information was released on Julian and Bobby Hernandez's whereabouts in the years before moving to their present address. But FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson told the Birmingham paper that the pair apparently had been living in the Cleveland area since the abduction.
The child's mother and family were notified of the child's recovery and that he was found safe and unharmed, a statement from Vestavia Hills Police Department said. The investigation is ongoing and Bobby Hernandez may face further charges.
Follow Emily Crilley on Twitter: @emily_crilley
Julian Hernandez National Center for Missing and Exploited Children