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Missing boy found 13 years later: "I just want to be normal"

CLEVELAND -- The boy, now 18, who was reported missing in 2002 and had been living with his father under a different name issued a statement Friday saying he just wants to be "normal."

"I want to go through my day like I did before this week, just being a normal 18 year old," said Julian Hernandez, in a statement issued through the FBI.

"I have goals that I am striving to meet, so please...respect my request for privacy."

Julian Hernandez, 18, was taken from his mother's home outside Birmingham, Alabama when he was five years old. At the time, his mother told police that the boy's father had been watching him and that he left a note saying he took Julian.

Police investigated hundreds of possible sightings, but the break in the case didn't come until the son started applying to college and a problem was discovered with his Social Security number. The teen 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 the local media.

Bobby Hernandez mugshot
Bobby Hernandez mugshot WOIO-TV/Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Jail

The boy and his father, Bobby Hernandez, had reportedly been living under different names. Hernandez was charged in Ohio with tampering with records to get a driver's license and was jailed on $250,000 bail. Alabama authorities charged him with interference with custody, which carries up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

A Cleveland attorney for the father says his client knew he'd eventually be caught after giving himself and his son new identities. Ralph DeFranco says Hernandez knows there will be consequences for his actions.

The mother, whose name has not been released, has been in contact with her son, but it's not known whether they have actually seen each other.

"My understanding is that he didn't know his birthday," said police Lt. Johnny Evans of the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills, where the boy once lived.

"He didn't even know his own name. He was going by something else. How does he cope with going from somebody he thought he was to now somebody that's completely unknown to him?"

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