Then one-year-old Steve was kidnapped by his biological father and was taken from his mother for more than 20 years.
While many of us get tired of having family reunions every weekend, there are families who have been apart for years—or probably haven’t met each other for the first time. This was the tragic case for a mom and her 21-year-old son was.
At just one year old, Steve was kidnapped by his biological father from his and her mother’s California home back in 1995. Maria Mancia was shocked when she came home to an empty house with Steve nowhere to be found. She soon realized that the boy’s father had taken him, along with all identification papers, documents, and pictures of the then 1-year-old boy.
Maria was devastated as she was left with nothing to look for her son. Fortunately, she was able to secure a photo from one of her relatives and used that to look for her son. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. 20 years have passed and Maria kept the picture on her phone to remember her son by.
It was until 2012 that Maria took the case to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit. ‘That became the only photograph she had of Steve for the last twenty-one years,’ said Senior Investigator Karen Cragg of San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Child Abduction Unit, referring to Maria’s only photo of Steve.
It took years before detectives were tipped off that Hernandez was possibly living in Puebla, Mexico. ‘We weren’t positive we located the right person,’ Cragg told the Highland Community News. ‘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.’
DNA tests soon confirmed that he was, in fact, Maria’s son, now 22 years old and taking up law. Maria and Steve were emotional after seeing each other for the first time in 20 years, especially seeing her grown-up son cry, who is now taller than her.
Authorities learned that Steve’s dad, Valentin Hernandez, is presumed to be dead after he left Steve a few years after taking him. He still has a $750,000 warrant in the system kidnapping and child abduction.