An Alabama boy who went missing over a decade ago has been found in Ohio. The case went cold until recently when the boy, who had been living with his father under a different name, was identified as the child who had disappeared years earlier.
Here's what you need to know:
1. What happened?
Bobby Hernandez was taken into custody in Ohio when authorities realized they could not validate the identity of his son, Julian Tiberius Hernandez, now 18. Alabama officials have issued a warrant for his arrest. The boy was reported missing by his mother in Vestavia Hills, Ala., in August of 2002 when his father failed to return him after a visit. Vicki Anderson, a special agent of the FBI's Cleveland Division, said the agency received information Friday that an Ohio teenager may be a missing child from Alabama.
2. What's the latest?
Agents have learned that Julian may have been using the name of a deceased person. Jefferson County (Alabama) District Attorney Brandon Falls told ABC News:
"It’s my understanding that the name they were using … was an actual person - so this was not completely a made up name. But it was someone who was deceased as of 2002 here in Alabama. "
3. How was he found?
Authorities realized Julian was not who he thought he was while he was applying for college. WOIO reports that the Social Security number Hernandez listed on college applications kept coming back with errors. After exploring the issue, Hernandez' high school counselor discovered the connection between the student and the missing child.
Federal agents contacted the Vestavia Hills Police Department in Ohio and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Those agencies confirmed the teen's identity with the help of the Birmingham FBI office.
4. What about his mom?
Hernandez's mother and family have been notified but not named publicly. The teen had been living with his father, Bobby Hernandez, for the duration of the time he was "missing."
5. What happened the day he disappeared?
Hernandez was reported missing by his mother on Aug. 28, 2002 at the age of 5. According to AL.com, Bobby Hernandez went to the Birmingham home where his son lived with his mother. The mother left the father and son at the house and returned to a note stating the two had left. On the day of the disappearance, Hernandez withdrew cash from his bank accounts and took some of Julian's possessions with them before fleeing, according to the Charley Project.
6. What charges is the father facing?
Bobby Hernandez, 53, has been arrested and charged with one count of tampering with records for giving false information to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Hernandez gave the DMV incorrect information to get a driver's license in 2012. He's being held at Cuyahoga County Jail with a bond set at $250,000. WBRC reports that an ongoing investigation could yield additional charges. His warrant in Alabama is for felony interference of custody.
7. What happens from here?
Authorities will continue the investigation into the kidnapping, potentially adding charges to Bobby Hernandez' existing charges. Since 18-year-old Julian Hernandez is legally an adult, he cannot be ordered to return to his mother's custody. He will have to decide whether to continue his life in Cleveland or to move back to Birmingham with his mother and her family.
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