5 years old, Julian Hernandez and his father, Bobby Hernandez, went on the run. Later, after thirteen years, when the case was considered long dead, he turned up again—and in a twist of fate, he was the one who solved his own kidnapping!
Bobby, the father, was supposed to drop Julian off at his preschool one morning when he decided to take a detour. Both of them drove off in the morning, and never returned—leading officials to suspect Bobby’s involvement in the kidnapping from the get-go.
Julian’s non-custodial father managed to take him from Alabama all the way to Ohio, where he changed his name to Jonathan Mangina and kept him living under an alias to throw off task forces.
Since the person who had “kidnapped” him was his own father, Julian had no reason to believe he had been wrongfully taken at all. Later, as an 18-year-old, his own “disappearance” came as quite a shock.
It took longer to discover the massive manhunt for him because the boy had trusted his father for so many years—but it’s the son, himself, who managed to discover that not all was as it had seemed growing up.
In his senior year of high school, Julian ran into trouble when he went to apply for colleges—the institutions he applied to had trouble verifying his existence.
The social security number he gave them, officials would later confirm, didn’t match the name he was applying with—which was Mangina.
Instead, the social security number matched with an 18-year-old named Hernandez; and with some digging, they realized that the name that matched the social security number had been on the national Missing Children list for 13 years.
The day when Julian went missing, his father had withdrawn significant sums of cash from his bank accounts—and before taking Julian to school, his mother later realized that his father had grabbed a number of his belongings, as well.
All these signs had pointed to his father taking him all along, but the pair had been impossible to trace.
According to the information police now have, Julian and his father have been living in the same house in Cleveland, Ohio, since the pair fled Alabama in 2002.
While the discovery he had an entirely new identity is hardly an easy thing to process, the relationship between Julian and his mother is well on its way to being mended as best it can be, too.
Fortunately, the story had a happy ending; while Hernandez lived a lie for 13 years, he certainly did well in the process. As a straight-A student and athlete in high school, the teen has no shortage of options in his future, regardless of his name.