San Bernardino, California – A California woman was reunited with his son in the United States after 20 years of his disappearance, local officials announced on Thursday. The boy was allegedly abducted by his father in 1995 and taken to Mexico.

The 22-year-old named Steve Hernandez was found by the authorities after they received information that the father could be no longer alive and that the U.S. citizen could be living in Puebla, Mexico. Police then tried to contact the son and ask some questions to confirm the identity, according to a press release made by San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit.

A woman from California hugs her son for the first time in 21 years. The woman's son was abducted over two decades ago. Image Credit: Fox32
A woman from California hugs her son for the first time in 21 years. The woman’s son was abducted over two decades ago. Image Credit: Fox32

“We were not positive we located the right person,” said Senior Investigator Karen Cragg. “So we used a ruse and told Steve we were conducting an investigation related to the disappearance of his father. During the conversation, we found several similarities in his history that matched that of our missing boy.”

Police also compared DNA to confirm further Hernandez’s identity, which came back as a positive match with the mother on May 31. The Department of Justice and Mexican officials assisted in the collection of the DNA sample, the press release stated.

Maria Mancia, the boy’s mother, was contacted by the authorities after the positive confirmation. According to the Cragg, she was overcome with emotion and very thankful. She had never given up after all these years, but had accepted the fact that she may never know her son, the investigator said.

An empty house

According to Cragg, who is assigned to the Child Abduction Unit, Hernandez was abducted by his father Valentin Hernandez from their Rancho Cucamonga residence in 1995 when the boy was 18-months-old. Mancia, the boy’s mother, had been looking for her son since then with no response from the father or anyone else.

The couple was having troubles at the time of the alleged abduction, Cragg said. One day, the mother went to work and by the time she got back, she found the house empty with the father and child gone, she added.

Identification documents, photos of the boy and even an ultrasound was taken from Mancia’s home the night of the abduction. The worried mother reported the incident immediately and was forced to ask to an aunt in El Salvador for a photo that she had sent her son, for identification purposes in the investigation process.

The investigation began and followed several clues within the U.S., but they were all unproductive for locating the missing boy. According to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, the police never gave up the investigation, and the outcomes were the result of the significant amount of work and team support.

Valentin Hernandez is presumed dead by the police authorities, although there is no official evidence to back that claim. However, the father currently has a $750,000 warrant in the system for kidnapping and child abduction.

Source: San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit