Maria Mancia just hugged her son for the first time in 21 years.
Steve Hernandez was abducted by his father in 1995, when he was just 18 months old, apparently due to relationship problems between Mancia and the boy’s father, Valentin Hernandez. The California resident was left with only a single photo of her son.
Yesterday, Steve Hernandez, now 22, shared photos of a touching reunion with his mother, the Associated Press reports. Investigators had been searching for him ever since he disappeared, but received a tip this February that he was in Mexico.
“We used a ruse to contact him,” lead investigator Karen Cragg told the AP. According to authorities, the elder Hernandez is missing, and presumed dead, so Cragg contacted Steve claiming that they were investigating his father and needed his DNA to locate him. “We didn’t want to scare him off. We weren’t sure what the circumstances were down there. We had to tread very carefully,” she said.
When the DNA came back as a match, Cragg informed Mancia right away.
“This anguish I’ve carried is gone now that I have my son back,” Mancia told Los Angeles station KABC-TV. “I spent 21 years looking for him not knowing anything.”
The two embraced when they first saw each other, and Hernandez wiped tears away from his mother’s eyes.
Now, Steve Hernandez plans to start fresh in the US. He intends to continue law school, which he began while living in Mexico. “I lived all those years without my mother,” he told reporters. “Then to find out she’s alive in another country, it’s emotional.”
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