A California mother whose son was kidnapped 21 years ago was reunited with him after years of not giving up on seeing him again (video below).
Steve Hernandez was abducted by his father in 1995 when he was 18 months old. His mother, Maria Mancia, returned home one day to find that her son had been taken by his father with no trace left behind. The father took the photos and paperwork that would identify Steve. Mancia had only a single photo to remember him by.
Mancia dreamed for years of being reunited with her son, and 21 years later that dream came true. She was recently reunited with her 22-year-old son, who was found living in Puebla, Mexico.
California’s San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit led the search for Hernandez over the course of several years. They received a tip that he might be living in Mexico.
A few months later, the mother and son had an emotional reunion that was caught on video.
“Now this anguish I’ve carried is gone now that I have my son back,” Mancia told KABC. “I spent 21 years looking for him not knowing anything.”
Hernandez’s father is missing and thought to be dead. Investigator Karen Cragg used the man’s disappearance and possible death as an excuse to contact the young man.
“We told [Hernandez] we were investigating his father and we needed his DNA to help locate his father,” Cragg Told the Associated Press. “We didn’t want to scare him off. We weren’t sure what the circumstances were down there. We had to tread very carefully.”
With DNA information, investigators were able to match Hernandez and Mancia.
Hernandez said his father told him little about his mother when he was growing up.
“I lived all these years without my mother, then to find out she’s alive in another country, it was emotional,” Hernandez told KABC. During the reunion, the young man discovered he has four siblings.
Hernandez, an American citizen, plans to move to the U.S. with no plans of returning to Mexico.