CLEVELAND (AP) — – The Cleveland teenager who recently discovered he had been taken from his mother's home in Alabama 13 years ago issued a statement Friday asking to be left alone by the media so that he can try to live a "normal" life.
Julian Hernandez, 18, has been besieged since learning Wednesday that his 53-year-old father, Bobby Hernandez, had been arrested and jailed for bringing his son in 2002 to Cleveland, where he created new identities for both of them. The teen helped solve the mystery himself when problems developed while trying to apply for college.
Bobby Hernandez, who lived, worked and apparently fathered another child in Cleveland, called himself Jonathan Mangina. A neighbor said the teen was normally called "Jay."
The teen's statement, issued through an FBI spokeswoman in Cleveland on Friday read: "I ask that you respect my privacy and the privacy of my school, my school's faculty, my friends and my neighbors. 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."
Bobby Hernandez's attorney said Friday that is client was initially on suicide watch after being arrested Monday and was given medication to calm him.
Hernandez was charged Wednesday with tampering with records to obtain an Ohio driver's license and is being held on a $250,000 bail. Alabama authorities on Thursday charged Hernandez with interference with custody, which carries up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 12. Defense attorney Ralph DeFranco said Friday that he and his client are waiting to see if Hernandez will be extradited to Alabama.
"He's pretty upset," DeFranco said. "He obviously knows there's going to be some consequences."
Asked if Hernandez knew he'd be caught, DeFranco replied, "Absolutely."
"He knew it was coming," DeFranco said. "He just didn't know when."
The mother, whose name hasn't been released, has been in contact with her son, but it's not known if they've seen each other. Julien Hernandez was taken from his mother's home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, which is outside Birmingham.
During the college application process, a problem was discovered with the teen's Social Security number, so he approached a school counselor, who discovered Hernandez was listed as missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, District Attorney Brandon Falls in Jefferson County, Alabama, told reporters there.
A police lieutenant in Vestavia Hills said it was his understanding that Julien Hernandez didn't know his actual birthday or his real name.
"How does he cope with going from somebody he thought he was to now somebody that's completely unknown to him?" Lt. Johnny Evans said.
Authorities said they're still trying to piece together what happened to the boy over the 13 years he was missing.
According to the Washington Post, Julien Hernandez' mother was shocked and even hesitant to believe that her son had been found after 13 years considering there had been close calls in the past from those who had supposedly found him.
"Really?" she fold police when they called this time. "Are you sure? Really?"
Authorities confirmed the young man's identity Monday. Evans said Thursday that mother and son had since been in contact, but he was not sure whether it was by phone or other means.