Julian Hernandez: I just want to be a normal 18-year-old

RAW: AL mom excited but apprehensive about missing child
Bobby Hernandez. (Source: Cuyahoga County Jail)
Bobby Hernandez. (Source: Cuyahoga County Jail)
Julian and Bobby Hernandez in an undated photo from Julian's birthday party. (Source: William Craft)
Julian and Bobby Hernandez in an undated photo from Julian's birthday party. (Source: William Craft)

The missing boy from Alabama who was discovered in Cleveland this week released a statement through the FBI on Friday saying that he has goals and just wants to be a normal 18-year-old.

"I would like to take this opportunity to make a request to the media. I ask that you respect my privacy and the privacy of my school, my school's faculty, my friends and my neighbors.  At this point I just simply want to be normal!  I want to go through my day like I did before this week, just being a normal 18 -year-old.  I have goals that I am striving to meet, so please, again, respect my request for privacy.  Please, no more spotlights, no more cameras, no more reporters sneaking into my school or showing up at my house, and no more microphones in my face.  I just want to be left alone.  Thank you for respecting my wishes."  ---  "Julian Hernandez"

The man accused of kidnapping Julian 13 years ago, his father Bobby Hernandez, will be in a Cuyahoga County courtroom on Nov. 12. Hernandez is being held on a $250,000 bond.

The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office  in Birmingham, Ala., announced late Thursday that an arrest warrant for interference of custody was issued for Hernandez. DA Brandon Falls said once Hernandez is extradited to Alabama, he will be held without bond.

Julian Hernandez was reported missing by his mother in August 2002 from Vestavia Hills, a Birmingham suburb. He was just 5 years old.

Bobby Hernandez's court-appointed lawyer, Ralph DeFranco, said his client is upset about the situation and is a "decent, nice, nice man."

Alabama police believed Julian was taken by his father 13 years ago, and that proved to be true last month when he started applying for colleges. Police said the boy found out about his real name because there was a problem with his Social Security number during the college application process. While helping Julian, a school counselor discovered he was listed as missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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

Authorities confirmed Julian's identity on Monday.

Julian's mother's name has not been released. A family representative released a statement Wednesday evening:

"Our family was overjoyed this week to locate Julian and learn that he is safe. We want to thank everyone for their prayers and support during Julian's disappearance. Although we appreciate the interest our story has generated, we will have to decline any requests for interviews or additional information at this time. We ask that the media respect our privacy as we focus on Julian's well-being."

Julian and his father were living under assumed names with a woman and two other children.

A neighbor in Cleveland said he knew Bobby as Jonathan Mangina, a man who had big dreams for his son.

"He was always talking about his son. All he wanted him to do was to be able to go to college," said the neighbor who did not want to be identified.

Who is Julian Hernandez?

A tip led the FBI's Cleveland Division to Hernandez and his son.

"He was a neighbor that would help you out with anything you needed. All you had to do was ask.  On the surface, everything was normal and fine," the neighbor added.

Police do not believe Julian knew he was kidnapped.

"Very bright kid. He cared about his kid, very much so. Took him to karate every day. He was his life," the neighbor said.

"To me it was a crazy thing. I've never. Everything we do it normally revolves around negativity and it was just great for me to be able to tell the mother that hey all this time I don't know what you've been thinking but all this time he's been alive and he's doing well. It's a good thing to be able to step out of the negativity and walk into something that's positive," Lt. Johnny Evans of Vestavia Hills Police Department said.

According to the Associated Press, court records show that Bobby Hernandez was declared indigent in Ohio. A message seeking comment was left at court-appointed attorney's office on Thursday..

What happens next, in part, will be up to Julian.

"He is 18, he is an adult, so it's kind of up to him now as to whether he wants to come back," Lt. Evans said.

Julian has been in contact with his mother, Evans said, but he wasn't sure whether it was by phone, email or other methods.

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