The father of the boy who vanished for 13 years -- now facing charges in the case -- "just took him and left" Alabama in 2002, his lawyer said.
Bobby Hernandez allegedly took his son, Julian, in 2002 and he and the boy lived under assumed names. The alleged ruse was only discovered when the boy applied to college and his Social Security number came up as invalid.
"There were times when he thought [Julian's mother] may take him. So he just decided, you know, one day that he was going to do it and he did it," Hernandez's attorney, Ralph DeFranco, told ABC News today. "He just took him and left, and came up here [to Ohio]."
DeFranco said he doesn't know if Hernandez contacted Julian's mother after that. But DeFranco said his client "absolutely" feels remorse.
"He’s been a good father," said DeFranco. "Everybody that knows him loves him. His neighbors and his friends all speak very highly of him."
It was not clear if any action was taken regarding the father's fears about the boy being taken. Julian's mother could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
A representative for Julian's mother said earlier the family was "overjoyed this week to locate Julian and learn that he is safe" but will "decline any requests for interviews or additional information at this time."
Julian, now 18, was reported missing by his mother in August 2002, according to the Vestavia Hills, Alabama, police. He was 5 years old at the time.
When the teen could not validate his Social Security number, according to Jefferson County, Alabama, District Attorney Brandon Falls, that led to the discovery of his identity after he and his guidance counselor checked a database for missing children.
"He didn’t know he was missing ... until he was making his application for school, and there was a discrepancy in his social security number," DeFranco said. "He didn’t know he was a missing person, so that was probably a bit of a surprise."
DeFranco said he hasn't met Julian but told ABC News "the young man is doing spectacularly."
"He’s bright, healthy, active in sports. And he’s an honor student in school. He’s a straight-A student," he said.
"He’s an adult," said DeFranco, "So I think, you know, in time, he’ll be fine."
Hernandez was taken into custody in Ohio on records tampering charges. He allegedly "falsified identifying information to obtain fictitious State of Ohio identification card," the criminal complaint said. Hernandez was being held on $250,000 bond in Ohio, according to court records.
Alabama officials also issued a warrant to arrest him for felony interference with custody, according to the Jefferson County DA's office.
Falls suggested that Hernandez may have been using the name of a dead person.
"It’s my understanding that the name they were using … was an actual person--so this was not completely a made up name,” Falls told ABC News. “But it was someone who was deceased as of 2002 here in Alabama."
Hernandez's attorney told ABC News today he believes that claim of using a deceased person's name is true, and added that his client could be facing serious time.
"At this point I just simply want to be normal! I want to go through my day like I did before this week, just being a normal 18 year old," Julian Hernandez said in a statement provided by the FBI. "I have goals that I am striving to meet, so please, again, respect my request for privacy."