Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Teen Discovers His Real Identity When Applying to College

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Teen Discovers His Real Identity When Applying to College

Article excerpt

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. * An Ohio teenager applying to college discovered some startling things about himself because of a discrepancy involving his Social Security number: His real name. And that he was allegedly snatched from his mother in Alabama by his father when he was 5.

Father and son were discovered living under assumed names this week in Cleveland, where by all accounts, Julian Hernandez, 18, was an excellent student and had been well cared for. The father, Bobby Hernandez, 53, was arrested and faces charges that could send him to prison for a decade or more.

Authorities are still trying to piece together what happened to the boy over the 13 years he was missing. But some of the bare facts are known: He vanished from his mother's home in the Birmingham area in 2002, his father leaving a note saying he had taken the child, according to authorities. The couple were not married.

Over the years, police investigated hundreds of potential sightings across the country. The break in the case didn't come until the son started applying to colleges.

Some kind of problem was found with his Social Security number, and so he approached a school counselor, who discovered that Hernandez was listed as missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, District Attorney Brandon Falls in Jefferson County, Alabama, told the local media.

Authorities confirmed the young man's identity on Monday.

"My understanding is that he didn't know his birthday. He didn't even know his own name. He was going by something else," said police Lt. Johnny Evans of the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills.

Evans said he had informed the mother on Monday. At first, she was cautious, given all the times she was disappointed before.

"Over the years there have been hundreds of sightings. You know, 'He's here, he's here, he's here.' We check it out and it's not him or he's not there," Evans said. …

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