A boy who disappeared 13 years ago discovers his true identity. It's inspiring Bay Area families that their missing loved ones could be next to return home.
Julian Hernandez disappeared when he was 5-years-old from his Alabama home. Investigators suspected he'd been kidnapped by his father. They searched from Florida to Canada. Now, Julian's 18 and applying for college. He couldn't validate his social security number. Investigators say he and a counselor did a little digging and revealed he's the boy his mom has been looking for for 13 years. His father, Bobby Hernandez, is now in jail. Since Julian's an adult, reuniting with his family will be up to him.
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"If he found himself, we still have more hope that you know, we'll find the rest of them," says Grandmother Carole Bernhardt.
Zachary Bernhardt's loved ones have been looking for answers, since the boy vanished from the family's apartment in Clearwater 15 years ago.
"Why wasn't it mine?," Carole Bernhardt wonders. She says she's happy for Julian Hernandez's family, after 13 years, they finally have closure. That's exactly what Zachary Bernhardt's loved ones have been praying for since 2000. "You go on there and find yourself, it would be like, whoa," Bernhardt says.
Fifteen years ago, Zach's mom says she couldn't sleep, went out for a walk, and when she returned to their Clearwater apartment, the 8-year-old had vanished.
His aunt, Billie-Jo Jimenez says today, Zach would be 23.
"Until they can present something to me to show me something differently, my nephew is alive. He's out there. I need people to open up their eyes and look for him," says Jimenez.
The miracles can happen.
"Their faces have got to get out there. Somebody know something," says Jimenez.
It's not easy on the missing kids' families. Drew and Joyce Kesse have been searching for their daughter, Jennifer, for nearly a decade now and say the daily struggle is emotionally and financially draining.
"Right now after 10 years, someone is trying to extort us. I know who killed her. I know where she is, send money, no cops. That's not going to happen," says Drew Kesse.
Kesse says investigators are following leads, and still talking with a former worker at Jennifer's complex who just last year came forward with new information.
"It just reinforces that someday, it just might be Jennifer's turn," says Kesse.
Through the heartache, The Kesse's, Bernhardt's and other families won't stop looking until one day their search hopefully ends like Julian Hernandez.
"Keep looking for all the missing ones," says Bernhardt.
These families encourage you to search and look at the pictures in the Center for Missing and Exploited Children database by clicking HERE.
You never know, a missing child could be living in your neighborhood.
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