A child reported missing in Alabama 13 years ago was discovered in Cleveland earlier this week. He was living under an assumed name with his dad in Ohio, unharmed.
Julian Hernandez’s mother reported him missing around Birmingham in 2002. His father, Bobby Hernandez, had left a note saying that he had taken him, police said. Police had experienced dead ends for years and years but a tip finally came in on Oct. 30.
“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, said. It took investigators “tireless hours doing everything they could to try to find him.”
Authorities said that the case broke open when his social security number raised some red flags on college applications the boy was filling out, according to the New York Times. When applying for colleges, he learned that the Social Security number his father had given him could not be verified.
When the issue came up, Hernandez went to a school counselor to ask for help. The counselor tried to help when she realized that he was listed as missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to District Attorney Brandon Falls in Jefferson County, Ala.
Supposedly, Hernandez was living with his 53-year-old father on the west side of Cleveland, authorities said. Both of them were living with a woman and two other children, officials said.
Most likely, Julian Hernandez didn’t know that he was listed missing.
Bobby Hernandez has been charged with tampering records in Ohio to get his driver’s license in 2012. Police said he’ll be charged with other offenses in Alabama. He’s being held on a $250,000 bond in Ohio.
“We are in the process of getting charges on him and when that happens, when he is adjudicated in Ohio, then he will be extradited back to Jefferson County,” Evans said.
In August 2002, Hernandez’s mother told Vestavia Hills that the father of her child had agreed to take him to preschool, but they never came back, USA Today reports. The police department said that the father had withdrawn cash from his bank accounts and took some of the child’s things before he left.
Police classified his crime as a non-custodial abduction.
No other information was released on where Julian and Bobby Hernandez were before moving to Cleveland. However, FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson said they had been living near Cleveland since the “non-custodial” abduction.
A statement from Vestavia Hills Police Department said that the child’s family and mother were notified that the child was found safe and unharmed. The investigation is ongoing.