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Child missing for 13 years found in Ohio after trying to apply for college

  • A photo composite of Julian Hernandez at age 5 (L) and at age 18 (R).

    A photo composite of Julian Hernandez at age 5 (L) and at age 18 (R).  (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

  • Bobby Hernandez

    Bobby Hernandez  (Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office)

A child who was reported missing from his Alabama home 13 years ago was found in Cleveland after he tried applying for college.

On August 28, 2002, the then-5 year old Julian Hernandez disappeared from the home he was living in with his mother in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. It was suspected at the time that the boy's father, Bobby Hernandez, took him as part of a noncustodial parental abduction.

The case remained cold for over a dozen years. On Sunday, the FBI contacted the Vestavia Hills police department with a tip they had received.

According to Brandon Falls, the district attorney in Alabama's Jefferson County, the now 18-year old Julian Hernandez was applying to a college and ran into issues when his Social Security number didn't match his name.

With the help of a school counselor, Hernandez determined that he was on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

Hernandez's father was arrested for allegedly providing false information in March 2012 to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to obtain a fake identification card. He is being held on $250,000 bond in Cuyahoga County and will also face charges in Alabama for his son's abduction when he is extradited.

Bobby Hernandez purportedly offered to take his young son to preschool in 2002, but instead withdrew cash from his bank accounts and fled, taking some of the child's possessions with him.

The father and son were found living on the west side of Cleveland, along with a woman and two other children.

"[Bobby has] been here three to five years," Matt MeInyk, the Hernandez family's neighbor, told USA Today. "I had absolutely no idea this was happening. His son was very quiet, and from what I know, he was a good student."

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