California Mom Reunites with Son 21 Years After His Abduction

ABCNews.com(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) -- Maria Mancia believes in miracles.

The California mother wrapped her hands around a 22-year-old man who towered over her. Tears streamed down her cheeks as they embraced.

Mancia was hugging her son, Steve Hernandez, who was abducted by his father 21 years ago when he was not yet even 2 years old, according to a press release from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. Hernandez's father, Valentin Hernandez, took him to Mexico in 1995, never to be seen nor heard from again, until Thursday.

Calls to Mancia were not returned, but ABC-owned station KABC-TV was there for the reunion.

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

Mancia and Valentin Hernandez were at odds with each other after the birth of their son, according to the press release. She came home to their Rancho Cucamonga, California, home after work one day to find they had disappeared.

After years of investigation, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit got a strong tip in February that Steve Hernandez was in Mexico.

In the press release, lead investigator Karen Cragg explained how authorities were able to make contact with Steve Hernandez and confirm his identity.

“We weren’t positive we located the right person,” Cragg said. “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.”

Investigators were ultimately able to confirm Steve Hernandez's identity with a DNA test.

“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.... To be able to return him to his country and his mother is an indescribable honor.”

According to the press release, Valentin Hernandez is presumed dead, but without confirmation, a $750,000 warrant for his arrest is still very much active, for kidnapping and child abduction.

After Steve Hernandez made the emotional trip back to the arms of his mother on Thursday, he said he was told by his father that his mother had walked out on them both.

"I lived all these years without my mother, then to find out she's alive in another country, it's emotional," Steve Hernandez told KABC-TV.

He plans to stay in the U.S. and continue law school, which he already started in Mexico, KABC-TV reported.

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Celebrities, politicians post tributes to comedian, activist Dick Gregory

Celebrities, politicians post tributes to comedian, activist Dick GregoryBrent N. Clarke/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The death of comedian and activist Dick Gregory at age 84 on Saturday prompted a flood of tributes on Twitter from celebrities, activists and others.

Jane Sanders recalled how her husband -- Bernie Sanders, Democratic senator from Vermont and former presidential candidate -- once spent a night in jail with Gregory after protesting segregation in Chicago.

RIP Dick Gregory, a good & brave man. He & @SenSanders spent the night in jail together for protesting Chicago segregated schools in the 60s https://t.co/pYpMU34eOx

— Jane O'Meara Sanders (@janeosanders) August 20, 2017

Democratic National Committee vice chairman Keith Ellison posted a photo of himself with Gregory. "Thank you for giving yourself to all of us," he wrote.

Dick Gregory, may God Bless you and Keep you. Thank you for giving yourself to all of us. pic.twitter.com/Z1dLIvYuBn

— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) August 20, 2017

Activist and writer Shaun King posted pictures of Gregory as a young man. "Rest in power, good sir," King wrote.

Because many of you probably only knew Dick Gregory as an older man, I wanted to show you these young images.

Rest in power good sir. pic.twitter.com/ZayInokcaJ

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) August 20, 2017

Singer John Legend called Gregory a "groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice."

Dick Gregory lived an amazing, revolutionary life. A groundbreaker in comedy and a voice for justice. RIP

— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 20, 2017

Some people posted excerpts from Gregory's memoir, "Callous on My Soul," such as when he wrote about a waitress in the South telling him that they "don't serve colored people."

White lady: We don't serve colored people here.

Dick Gregory: I don't eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.

RIP Mr. Gregory😰 pic.twitter.com/t8dnuRJhBC

— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 20, 2017

Here is a sample of some other tweets paying tribute to Gregory and lamenting his passing.

Comedian Dick Gregory always told it like it is. Our laughter was fuel to fight for justice in an unjust world. RIP 1932-2017 pic.twitter.com/wpbdEkvny1

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 20, 2017

Marching w/ King. Sitting w/ Ali. Paving the way for our comedic greats. All while fighting for us.

Rest well Dick Gregory. #blkcreatives pic.twitter.com/GsfRTjHSuy

— #blkcreatives netwrk (@blkcreatives) August 20, 2017

He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight.He taught us how to live.Dick Gregory was committed to justice.I miss him already. #RIP pic.twitter.com/3CfpM2O17D

— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) August 20, 2017

Rest In Peace to civil rights icon Dick Gregory. An inspiration. A hero. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/kIzeYMNjor

— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) August 20, 2017


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