Steve Hernandez lovingly wiped away the precious tears trickling down his mother’s cheeks. They were standing in an austere room in the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office. Maria Mancia couldn’t stop crying as she wrapped her arms around her son who was kidnapped for the last 21 years.
The last time 42 year old Maria Mancia, had seen Steve Hernandez was in 1995 when he just 18 months old. Manica returned to her house at California to find her toddler son missing.
Hernandez’s father, with whom she lived back then, had kidnapped the boy. A panicked Mancia reported the abduction to authorities and police forces, but for decades but the case took to the shelves of dust and remained unsolved.
“All that time I didn’t know what had happened to him,” Mancia told at the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.
Later in February, Cragg received information from reliable sources that Hernandez now 22 was living in Puebla, Mexico along with his dad. His father went missing which was used as a prompter to start a conversation with the younger Hernandez.
“We used a ruse to contact him. We told him we were investigating his father and we needed his DNA to help locate his father,” Cragg told the AP. “We didn’t want to scare him off. We weren’t sure what the circumstances were down there. We had to tread very carefully.”
In May, DNA samples of Hernandez and Mancia were sent to Department of Justice lab to prove the maternal rights. None of them were given prior information about the test to avoid panic, added the investigators. The results came out positive proving that Hernandez was Mancia’s lost son.
“It was like she didn’t believe us at first,” Cragg told AP. “She began to cry. She said she couldn’t believe he was still alive,” as Cragg and Faxon broke the good news to Mancia.
“Now this anguish I’ve carried is gone now that I have my son back,” Mancia told KABC-TV. “I spent 21 years looking for him not knowing anything.”
According to reports, Hernandez now and American citizen would like to continue his education in the US and hopes to attend law school. The authorities have not yet confirmed if senior Hernandez has been found or if he would be accused for kidnapping.
The father had made his son believe that Mancia had abandoned him when he was only a child.
“It was a shock,” said the surprised Hernandez, knowing the whereabouts of his mom. “I didn’t know if she was alive or not and to get a call that says they found my mother and that she had been looking for me, it was like a cold bucket of water. But it’s good. It’s good.”