Julian Hernandez was on the search for the perfect college with his high school guidance counselor in Cleveland when he learned of another search that had been underway for 13 years: his own.
In 2002, five-year-old Julian was reported missing from his home in Alabama by his mom.
The belief was that his father had taken him to Florida – but neither of them could be traced. His mother thought she’d lost her son for good and Julian grew up unaware that she existed and with a different name.
But when Julian applied to college this remarkable and heart-breaking story started to unravel.
Julian’s father, Bobby Hernandez, was supposed to drop him off at school one morning. But instead, he took all cash out of his account and some of his son’s clothes and toys and left, ABC News reports.
After that, Julian was taken to Cleveland, Ohio, where his dad started a new life under the false name of Jonathan Mangina. Neighbors knew his son as Jay Jay, Newsnet 5 reported.
His applications to college were being sent back because Julian’s name didn’t match his social security number.
That’s when his counselor decided to look into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s database and found some startling information.
A missing poster from 2002 of Julian when he was 5 years old was discovered.
His father, Bobby Hernandez, took responsibility for his actions, has served about a year behind bars, and should be freed, possibly under some other form of court supervision, defense attorney Ralph DeFranco said in a filing asking a judge to consider judicial release for the 54-year-old Hernandez.
He was sentenced in April to four years in prison after pleading guilty to kidnapping and other charges. His teenage son, Julian, said then that Hernandez had given him everything he needed and he forgives his dad.
Hernandez acknowledges taking the boy from the Birmingham area and keeping the child from his mother for over a decade but provided a stable life in which his son thrived as an honors student in school and in other activities, DeFranco wrote in the filing last month, which was first reported by WJW-TV.
More details of this story below: