Note: we are republishing this story in light of recent reports that show a significant increase in human trafficking and abductions in America during the coronavirus pandemic.
A boy kidnapped by his father in 2002 solved his own abduction case.
Julian Hernandez was 5 when his father, Bobby Hernandez, took him from his mother and moved from Alabama to Ohio, where they lived under fake identities, the Daily Mail explained.
The father changed his name to Jonathan Mangina, and his son's name to J.J. Mangina.
The kidnapping scheme was hatched after Bobby and his wife split up in 2002.
On the day of the abduction, Bobby had been due to pick up Julian from his ex-wife's home near Birmingham and take him to preschool. Instead, he left a note telling his wife he had taken their son, authorities say.
Prosecutors explained that Bobby fled to Cleveland with his son, where he forged driver's licenses, car titles and school records to evade detection.
The disappearance triggered a national missing-person alert, with Julian being listed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The truth was finally uncovered in November 2015, when "J.J," by then a senior at a Cleveland high school, began the college application process and discrepancies were discovered with his Social Security number.
In March 2016, Bobby appeared in Cuyahoga County Court and pleaded guilty to kidnapping, interference with custody and tampering with records.
The county prosecutor pushed for a lengthy sentence -- up to 54 years in prison -- referring to the father's actions as "cruel."
However, defense attorney Ralph DeFranco described his client as "the perfect father" who provided a good life for his son and is planning to ask the judge for probation, Cleveland.com reported.
DeFranco described Julian as "an honors student, happy, healthy, you know doing everything a young man his age should do."
Indeed, "J.J." received an almost perfect score on the ACT test, and had plans of attending Ohio State University.
After he learned his true identity, Julian issued a statement through the FBI, requesting that the news media leave him alone.
"I ask that you respect my privacy and the privacy of my school, my school's faculty, my friends and my neighbors," the statement said. "At this point I just simply want to be normal! 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, so please, again, respect my request for privacy."
Lt. Johnny Evans wanted to know: "How does he cope with going from somebody he thought he was to now somebody that's completely unknown to him?"
He was allowed to visit his father following his arrest, and was also reunited with his mother, who issued a statement when her son was found: "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."
Bobby, now 54 after serving almost a year behind bars, is seeking early release from prison, it was announced in January.
DeFranco, who filed the motion with the court, said his client took responsibility for his actions and should be freed.
"Clearly the defendant understands and appreciates the gravity of this case and understands that he denied the child's mother access to him for many years," DeFranco said in the document.
The prosecutor's office responded by saying it plans to oppose early release. Tim McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor who handled the case, is pushing for a lengthy sentence for Bobby.