Alabama Boy Missing For 13 Years Found Safe In Ohio

| by Brendan Kelly
Julian Hernandez.Julian Hernandez.

A child who was reported missing reported missing in 2002 in Alabama was found safe and unharmed in Cleveland, Ohio. According to authorities, the now-teenager discovered his missing status himself.

Julian Hernandez, 18, has been living with his father, Bobby Hernandez, in Ohio, under different names. The teen discovered something was wrong when his Social Security number could not be verified as he tried to apply to colleges.

After Julian struggled to apply to colleges, he asked his school counselor for help. The counselor helped him discover he was on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database. On Oct. 30, the FBI was informed and Hernandez’s real identity was confirmed.

Fortunately, Julian was unharmed. His father was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with tampering with records.

Bobby, 53, was also involved in a March 2012 incident, in which he provided false information to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to obtain a fake ID. He is being held on $250,000 bail in Cuyahoga County. He will face charges in Alabama as well for the abduction of his son when he is extradited.

Julian was reported missing in August 2002, when his mother told police that her son's father said he would take their 5-year-old son to preschool, but the two never returned. Police determined the father withdrew cash from his bank account and fled, taking some of Julian’s possessions with him. The crime was classified as a non-custodial abduction.

Bobby and Julian lived on Cleveland’s west side with another family, according to the Cleveland Division of the FBI.

“He’s been here three to five years,” said Matt Melnyk, the Hernandez’ neighbor. “I had absolutely no idea this was happening. His son was very quiet, and from what I know, he was a good student.”

FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson told the Birmingham News that Bobby and Julian had been living in the Cleveland area since the abduction, though their whereabouts in the years before moving to their current home are unknown.

The Vestavia Hills Police Department confirmed that Julian was safe and unharmed. His mother and family were notified of his recovery.

The investigation is still ongoing. Bobby could potentially face further charges.

Sources: USA Today, CNN / Photo credit: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children via USA Today