(VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala.) — An Alabama mother was shocked to learn that her son, who disappeared 13 years ago, has finally been found in Ohio with his father, who’s now facing charges in connection with the abduction, police said.
“It was just great for me to be able to tell the mother…he is doing well,” Lt. Johnny Evans of the Vestavia Hills Police Department in Alabama said Thursday.
Julian Hernandez was reported missing by his mother in August 2002, according to the Vestavia Hills police. He was five years old at the time.
It was suspected he was taken in a “non-custodial parental abduction,” the police said.
Authorities followed many leads over the years of where Julian might be, from Florida to Canada, the police said Thursday. Each one was a dead end, police said — until this week.
The Vestavia Hills Police Department was contacted this week by FBI agents from Cleveland, Ohio, about a missing child from Vestavia Hills.
Authorities located and positively identified the child as Julian, the police said, and Julian’s mother was told he was found safe.
“She had not given up, but she hadn’t heard anything in awhile,” said Evans. “It was just kind of a shock to her…all of a sudden on a Monday afternoon to be told, ‘Hey, he’s found.'”
While police do not know if the mother and son have reunited, the police said they have been in contact.
The investigation came together when Julian, who “was doing well in school,” “was looking to go to college,” said Evans.
“And when he started the process, that’s when things kind of started coming together,” said Evans.
Julian’s father, Bobby Hernandez, was arrested and charged in Cuyahoga County Court in Ohio in connection with the abduction, police said.
Hernandez is accused of tampering with records, according to a complaint from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
Hernandez will face charges in Jefferson County, Alabama, police said.
Hernandez’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The investigation is ongoing, said police.
What’s next for Julian?
“He is 18,” said Evans. “He is an adult, so it’s kind of up to him now as to whether he wants to come back. We can’t go get him and bring him back because he was a juvenile.”
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