Julian Hernandez was in the legal custody of his mother when he disappeared on August 28, 2002. He was 5 then.
It was suspected that his father, Bobby Hernandez, took him as part of a noncustodial parental abduction, according to the Vestavia Hills Police Department, just south of Birmingham.
A lead in the case came Sunday, when Vestavia Hills police were contacted by the FBI in Cleveland about a missing child.
The case broke when Julian was trying to apply for college, Brandon Falls, the district attorney for Jefferson County, told CNN affiliate WVTM
. He ran into problems when his Social Security number didn't match his name.
A school counselor worked with him to determine why. It was then they found out that he was on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.
The missing child they were able to locate and positively identify is now 18. Julian's mother and family were notified of his recovery.
Bobby Hernandez was arrested Monday in the abduction. The court records from Cuyahoga County in Ohio did not specify exact charges against him. CNN reached out to attorney Ralph DeFranco's office for further comment Wednesday night but did not immediately receive a response.
Bobby Hernandez made his first appearance in the Cuyahoga County Court on Wednesday, and his bond was set at $250,000. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 12.
In addition to the charges in Ohio, Hernandez will face charges in Jefferson County, Alabama, in the 2002 abduction. He may face additional charges.
The Vestavia Hills Police Department worked in collaboration with the FBI's Violent Crime Task Force in Cleveland, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Birmingham Division of the FBI.