"PRACTICAL WORLD" - 'TRUE NEWS' MAGAZINE.

"PRACTICAL WORLD" - 'TRUE NEWS' MAGAZINE.
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Practical World True News Magazine

Top Story from California : Mom and Son reunited 21 Years After Kidnapping

In 1995, Maria Mancia came home from work to find her 18-month-old son, Steve, missing.

Steve Hernandez wipes a tear from his mother's eye after seeing her for the first time in 20 years in San Diego, Calif., on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Christopher Lee / San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office via AP
She soon made an unsettling discovery: The boy's father, Valentin Hernandez, had kidnapped him and ransacked her California home. Documents and heirlooms, including Steve's baby pictures and even an ultrasound photo, were gone.

For 21 years, Mancia wondered what happened to her boy: What was he doing? What did he look like? Would he remember me?

On Thursday, she got her answer.

Mancia and her now-22-year-old son were reunited by the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office after a painstaking search for the boy that led them more than 1,500 miles away, to Puebla, Mexico.

District Attorney's Office investigator Karen Cragg said Mancia and Hernandez were having issues in their relationship when Steve was abducted from her Rancho Cucamonga home.

   

Mancia, desperate for an image to remember her son by, wrote her aunt in El Salvador requesting a picture she had once sent her of Steve.

"That became the only photograph she had of Steve for the last 21 years," Cragg said in a statement.

An undated family photo of Steve Hernandez, pictured in the only photograph Maria Mancia had of her kidnapped son for the last 20 years. San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office via AP

Mancia asked law enforcement for help, and the District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit set off to gather leads throughout the country.

Through one lead, they learned that Hernandez was probably dead, although they were unable to verify it. The grim and frustrating search got brighter in February when a tip came in that Steve was possibly living in southern Mexico.

"We weren't positive we located the right person, so we used a ruse and told Steve we were conducting an investigation related to the disappearance of his father," Cragg said. "During the conversation, we found several similarities in his history that matched that of our missing boy."

After realizing they had a potential match, the Child Abduction Unit set up a plan to collect DNA from Steve and Mancia, but did not tell them exactly what they were doing in case it turned out to be wrong.

The Department of Justice and Mexican officials helped gather the DNA samples and sent them for testing.

Last month, investigators learned they had a hit: "Steve in Mexico" was the kidnapped toddler.

"We contacted the mother and she was overcome with emotion and very thankful," Cragg said. "She had never given up after all these years, but had accepted the fact that she may never know her son."


Mancia asked law enforcement for help, and the District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit set off to gather leads throughout the country.

Through one lead, they learned that Hernandez was probably dead, although they were unable to verify it. The grim and frustrating search got brighter in February when a tip came in that Steve was possibly living in southern Mexico.

"We weren't positive we located the right person, so we used a ruse and told Steve we were conducting an investigation related to the disappearance of his father," Cragg said. "During the conversation, we found several similarities in his history that matched that of our missing boy."

After realizing they had a potential match, the Child Abduction Unit set up a plan to collect DNA from Steve and Mancia, but did not tell them exactly what they were doing in case it turned out to be wrong.

The Department of Justice and Mexican officials helped gather the DNA samples and sent them for testing.

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