In 2002, five-year-old Julian Hernandez 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.
But when the time came to start filling in applications for college, this dark secret was revealed.
When Julian applied to college in 2015 he and his guidance counselor looked into why several universities couldn’t verify his social security number.
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.
Police were then able to give his mom the news that her son was alive and doing well.
All this time he had been in Cleveland with his dad, stepmom and little sister.
At the father’s sentencing his son said he forgave his father for depriving him of his mother and appealed to the judge not to imprison his father.
Jailed for four years
“Growing up without a mother was painful,” he said, “but taking him away from me is doing the same thing all over again,” Julian Hernandez said.
His father was sentenced in 2016 to 4 years in jail and five years of supervised release.
Find out more about this shocking case in the clip below.
I can’t imagine losing a son for 12 years not knowing if he was alive or dead.
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