In 2002, a five-year-old boy named Julian Hernandez went missing in Jefferson County, Alabama. Now 13 years later, we know the whole story.
Hernandez was in the legal custody of his mother at the time of his disappearance. Police had long suspected that he was taken by his father, Bobby Hernandez. As it turns out, their suspicions ended up being true.
Even though his whereabouts are now confirmed, it still is a difficult process for Julian to undergo, as he did not know that he was kidnapped.
“Reunification is sometimes very complicated,” said Robert Lowery of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). “He is very confused; he has an established relationship with his father, and there was a stepmother there too. Now he has to embark on a journey of reclaiming those lost 13 years.”
The big break in the case came when Julian attempted to apply for college earlier in the year. A college counselor saw that his social security number didn’t match his name in the records. After some quick research, the counselor discovered that Julian Hernandez was listed as missing in the NCMEC system.
Bobby Hernandez, his father, was taken into custody and is being charged with tampering with records in Ohio as well as abduction charges in Alabama.
This turn of events has obviously been quite the shock for the now 18-year-old Julian. “At this point, I just simply want to be normal,” he said. “I want to go through my day like I did before this week, just being a normal 18-year-old. I have goals that I am striving to meet.”
“Julian was gone for 13 years, so hopefully his story can serve as a beacon of hope for other families of missing children,” said Lowery. “Children do come home after long periods of time, and this case serves as a very good reminder of that.”