California mom reunited with kidnapped son 21 years later

Leticia Juarez Image
Friday, June 10, 2016
San Bernardino mother reunited with kidnapped child 21 years later
Maria Mancia was reunited with her son Steve Hernandez 21 years after he was kidnapped by his father and taken to Mexico.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. -- A mother never gave up hope that she would be reunited with her child who was kidnapped 21 years ago. And on Thursday, that dream came true.

Steve Hernandez was just 18-months-old when his father kidnapped and took him to Mexico.

The now 22-year-old law student was reunited with his mother, Maria Mancia, who last saw him as a toddler.

The emotional reunion was captured as the mother and son walked arm-in-arm as she introduced him to his younger siblings.

"Now this anguish I've carried is gone now that I have my son back. I spent 21 years looking for him not knowing anything," Mancia said.

Mancia said she always kept one picture of Hernandez with her, and said it was the only one she had left.

The mother said she returned home in 1995 and discovered Hernandez's father had left with all the photos of their son and identifying paperwork.

Mancia went to the police, but the case eventually went cold. Then in 2012, it landed in the hands of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit.

A tip investigators received in February led to Hernandez, who was now living in Puebla, Mexico.

"With DNA analysis that match his mother, we knew we found Steve," San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said.

Two weeks ago, investigators broke the news to Mancia and Hernandez.

Hernandez said his father disappeared and was presumed dead. Hernandez's father told him very little about his mother.

"I lived all these years without my mother, then to find out she's alive in another country, it was emotional," Hernandez said.

He also learned he has four other siblings. Hernandez, who is an American citizen, said he has no plans to return to Mexico and hopes to attend law school in the U.S.