A child reported missing from Alabama 13 years ago has been found safe in Ohio, authorities said, and the issue was discovered when the boy began applying to colleges.
The child was 5 years old when he disappeared in 2002 — and it was suspected then that the child’s father, who did not have legal custody, may have taken the boy, Vestavia Hills police in Alabama said.
On Monday, the FBI’s Cleveland office contacted police in Alabama and said the missing child, Julian Hernandez, now 18 years old, had been located in that city and his father was arrested, police said.
Bobby Hernandez was arrested Monday and is charged with tampering with records for allegedly using false information to get an Ohio identification card in 2012, NBC station WKYC reported.
Hernandez, 53, is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail, according to court records. His court-appointed attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
Jefferson County, Alabama, District Attorney Brandon Falls told NBC affiliate WVTM that the discovery was made after Julian Hernandez applied to colleges and encountered problems verifying his Social Security number.
When a school counselor and Julian Hernandez investigated the discrepancy, they found his information was in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database, WVTM reported.
The boy was reported missing on Aug. 28, 2002. Vestavia Hills police Lt. Johnny Evans told the station Wednesday that investigators “spent tireless hours doing everything they could to try and find him.”
A neighbor of the Hernandez’ in Cleveland was surprised by the allegations.
“He’s (Bobby) been here three to five years … he’s a pretty cool guy,” Matt MeInyk, a neighbor, told WKYC. “I had absolutely no idea this was happening. His son was very quiet, and from what I know, he was a good student.”
Vestavia Hills Police Chief Dan Rary said the boy’s mother and family have been notified, and Bobby Hernandez will face charges in Alabama for the alleged abduction.