“I’ve been doing this 25 years and its something I’ve never experienced before,” said Lt. Johnny Evans, of Vestavia Hills police.
According to Vestavia Hills police, Julian Hernandez, who is now 18, was reported missing by his mother on Aug. 28, 2002. Police say he was suspected to have been abducted by a non-custodial parent.
“They (investigators) spent tireless hours doing everything they could to try to find him,” said Evans.
Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls said the case broke when the boy was trying to apply for college when his Social Security number didn’t match his name.
Falls said a school counselor worked with the child to determine the reason, and that is when they found out that he was on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.
The FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force in Cleveland, Ohio, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Vestavia Hills Police Department and the Birmingham Division of the FBI have been working on the case.
Police said the teen’s mother is “ecstatic” that her son has been found.
“That’s the reason you never give up and you keep looking,” said Evans.
The now-teenager’s father, Bobby Hernandez, was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio. A representative from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said Hernandez is in jail for tampering with records and is being accused of providing false information to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Hernandez may also be charged in Alabama with interference of custody.
Evans said authorities are working to extradite Bobby Hernandez back to Alabama.
A representative for Julian Hernandez’s mother released the following statement:
“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.
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