This Guy Was Applying to College and Made a Strange Discovery About His Past


One Day Changed Everything


Five-year-old Julian was waiting for his ride to school. His dad would normally picked him up, But this eventful day would be very different. Julian’s future would soon change. Fast forward 13 years later…

ADVERTISEMENT

A New Life


In 2015, Julian was living happily with his dad and stepfamily in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a happy young adult, and enjoyed his school and friends.

ADVERTISEMENT

A Good Start


Julian’s father wanted to make his son’s life as happy as he could. Young Julian had never thought to question his dad’s decision to take him away from his mother. He excelled at school, and quickly became the top student in many of his classes in his new hometown.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A Role Model?


Julian had always sought to make his dad proud. “He’s the reason why I get the best grades in school, and why I’m going to college.” He knew what college, and what course he wanted to do. Yet what was about to unfold, would open a can of worms that would unravel everything he thought he knew.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Next Chapter


The time had arrived to start applying. He applied to a few of his top choices but when he didn’t hear back from the schools in question, it was clear that something wasn’t right. For some unknown reason, his applications were not being successfully processed. But why?

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Something Was Not Right


The college application process was complicated and arduous. Each school required him to submit a long list of required documents. Julian had to also submit all of his correct personal details, including his social security number. It became apparent that his personal details were not valid – something didn’t add up here.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

What Was Wrong?


Julian grew worried. The application deadlines were fast approaching and his applications were still not being processed. He desperately sought out the help of his school counselor. The school worker searched Julian’s full name and his social security number on the web. The results came up and Julian simply could not believe what they had discovered.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A Shocking Discovery


According to what they had found, Julian had been missing for the past 13 years. This made no sense to him. The young man was determined to uncover the mystery of his past. Once a formal investigation was launched, things became clearer. Julian’s story can be traced back to that fateful day in 2002 when he was five years old, waiting for his father, Bobby Hernandez, to pick him up from school.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Going Back in Time


As a baby, he lived with his mother in the wealthy suburb of Vestavia Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. Julian’s mother had gained custody of him after a nasty split with Julian’s father, Bobby. At one point in the couple’s turbulent relationship, Bobby had threatened to take Julian away from his mother if she ever decided to leave him.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A Mother’s Love


Julian had been a happy and active child. The young boy was the center of his mother’s world. The two were inseparable. His mom would read him bedtime stories, play lego with him and always ensured he had everything he needed in order to live a full, happy and healthy life. On that day in 2002, as Julian waited outside his preschool, everything changed forever…

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A Crazy Move


Bobby Hernandez emptied his bank account and packed up his and his son’s belongings. He had made a drastic decision. He was leaving and he was taking Julian with him. He was going to start a new life somewhere his wife would never find them. After 13 years living in torment, Julian’s mother would soon discover what had happened to her long lost son.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Letter


Before Bobby had made this irreversible decision, the couple had had an agreement. Bobby was allowed to visit Julian as well as give him daily lifts to his preschool. On that day in August 2002, Julian’s mother returned home to discover a letter. Bobby gave her a short explanation of what he had done; he had left with their son. She had no idea where her son was. She was heartbroken and her world fell apart.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Search Continues


Julian’s mother was determined to find her lost boy. She immediately notified the authorities. A manhunt for the child began. She searched the neighborhood, spoke to locals and put up missing posters of her lost child. To no avail.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Fading Memories


Days passed and the search for the lost child continued. Julian’s mother was in agony, “I didn’t know if he had a home or if he was taken care of,” she said. Time marched on and she began to lose faith, worried sick. She held on to the memories of her child and continued to put up missing posters. The authorities gave up, but she refused to believe she would never again see her little boy.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Ten Years Later


Years passed, and Julian’s mother had not seen her child in almost a decade. Even without knowing where her son was, the mother still held the hope that her boy would return home. She left his childhood bedroom untouched and tried to continue with her life, but the strength to move forward was often difficult to find; “During my darkest moments, I considered suicide. I wanted to die,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Completely Unaware


Thousands of miles away, Julian was growing up, living out his years completely unaware of his mother’s desperate situation. However, now he was no longer oblivious. His problematic college applications had led him to uncover that his father had taken him away from his mother without her knowledge, drove him across the country and changed their identities.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Stolen Identity


Bobby had been sure to cover his tracks. He no longer went by ‘Bobby,’ he was now known as Jonathan Mangina. He obtained fake legal documents that stated his new name. He and his son started their new life. He made new friends, took part in communal events and found a job working in a local factory. As the years passed by, he was sure that he and Julian would never be found. Boy was he wrong.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Caught Out


Bobby’s actions had finally caught up with him. He was arrested in November 2015 and charged with interference with custody, forgery, and kidnapping. Community locals were shocked to see police cars show up at their neighbor’s home, leading the man away in handcuffs. Bobby had little to do but wait to see how the rest of the dramatic story would unfold.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Courtroom


Bobby Hernandez was tried for his crimes on April 13, 2016. He had not seen his son in almost half a year. The judge ruled that both Julian and his mother should not be exposed to the press and the tabloid media but both were in the room during Bobby’s hearing. The room was silent, the judge was present, Bobby Hernandez would soon discover his fate.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Words of Support


Ralph DeFranco was the attorney set to defend the actions of his client, Hernandez. DeFranco tried to reassure his client before the trial began. Hernandez looked increasingly distressed, “Don’t start. Bobby, just do what I tell you. Please, Please,” DeFranco told him calmly.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Truth is Out


The trial went on. Multiple members of Julian’s family came forward to take the stand and testify against Bobby. Many confirmed that the relationship between Bobby and Julian’s mother became increasingly dysfunctional. The testimonies all supported the evidence that this had been an evil premeditated act.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A Desperate Plea


Finally, it was Bobby’s new wife, Marcelena’s turn to take the stand. She testified in support of Bobby, the man she knew was not a criminal but “a hard-working industrious family man.” She claimed that Bobby had always tried to do right by his son, to give him all that he needed. She begged the court.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A Protective Mother


Attorney Gloria Allred read out two statements, from both Julian’s mother and his maternal grandmother. “I have lived in fear for years. Although I’m so proud that Julian has grown up to be a wonderful young man, we will never get back the 13 years that were stolen from us,” said Julian’s mother.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Nana’s Words


Julian’s grandmother’s statement was particularly heartwrenching. Like her daughter, she had been devastated by the loss of her loving grandson. His absence was always desperately mourned on family occasions like Christmas and his birthday. She said, “We can only hope that this will be the last year of this terrible headache and heartache.” Despite the many testimonies heard, the most important person to speak was about to take the stand…

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Bobby’s Son


What would Julian say? Julian testified in support of his father, Bobby. Julian claimed that he had been too young to be scarred by the early events of the so-called ‘kidnapping.’ That despite the events that had taken place, Bobby had been a wonderful father, providing him with everything he needed to live a healthy and joyous life.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Julian’s Story


Julian was noticeably emotional as he read out his intimate statement, but the young man managed to maintain his composure. He spoke of his father with tears in his eyes. “He loved me and protected me more than anyone else I’ve known in my life,” he said, “Whenever I needed something, he would make it happen and whenever I had a problem he would listen.”

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Forgiveness for his Father


He may have grown up in a loving home but living life without a mother was still a painful experience for Julian. He understood that he was stripped of the right to a loving maternal parent – something we all might take for granted. But the young man went on to say, “taking [dad] away from me is doing the same thing all over again.” He believed a prison sentence would only make the situation worse. “Even if other people can’t, I love and forgive him,” Julian said.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

An Important Reminder


Prosecutor Timothy McGinty urged the judge to take Julian’s mother’s trauma into consideration. He commented that “most parents would rather be shot in the leg than have this happen to them.” McGinty also wanted to remind the jury that Bobby had once threatened Julian’s mother all those years ago. “If she ever broke up with him…if they ever split…his words were that ‘she would never see her child again,’” McGinty said.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

In Bobby’s Defense


Bobby’s defending attorney, Ralph DeFranco, continued to push for his client. The lawyer reminded the jury and the judge of Julian’s honest words, the 18-year-old had always felt safe, loved and protected by his father. “He’s been a model father,” said DeFranco.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Facing the Truth


Bobby pleaded guilty to 14 of the 32 criminal counts lodged against him. Julian’s father had admitted to feeling true remorse for his actions, claiming that looking back, he would have handled the situation very differently. Before the final sentence, which was scheduled to be revealed on April 13th, it was speculated that Bobby could face anywhere between 3 and 54 years behind bars. It was just a waiting game now.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The Verdict


The jury had made their decision. Bobby Hernandez was sentenced to four years in prison. This may not have been a happy ending for Bobby, but the ordeal was finally over. After 13 years, Julian had been reunited with his mother and the rest of his family. It was time for a new chapter. Julian would return home with his mother and begin to rebuild his life.