Lost and Found: South Florida filmmaker finds brother believed to have been kidnapped from Colombia

(WSVN) - When a loved one goes missing, a South Florida filmmaker goes on the hunt for answers. His search stretched over three decades and thousands of miles, and now, he’s turned his story into a movie of inspiration. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek has his special assignment report: Lost and Found.

A well-worn Bible serves as a source of inspiration for this South Florida filmmaker.

Juan Jimenez keeps it close by as he edits video of his latest project: a story of his own life.

Juan Jimenez, filmmaker: “I have a lot of craziness around, and I grew up in a difficult environment.”

In 1988, Juan’s 3-year-old brother, Jhonatan, went missing from outside their home in Bogota, Colombia. Juan was just 5 at the time.

Juan Jimenez: “We were screaming, ‘Jhonatan, Jhonatan!’ all around. I remember trying to search under the bed and different places in the house, in the kitchen.”

They never found Jhonatan and believed he was kidnapped.

Seven years later, their fears were confirmed.

Juan Jimenez: “This guy who took my brother returned and confesses to my mom that he did it. He said because my stepfather ordered him to do it, and he said, ‘Don’t worry about it. The kid is fine. The kid is good. He’s with a wealthy family in the United States.'”

After hearing that, Juan made it a mission to find his brother.

He grew up, became an actor, came to Miami to work, attend film school and search for Jhonatan.

Juan Jimenez: “I need a miracle. It was very difficult. How am I going to find my brother?”

Every clue Juan uncovered led to dead ends.

He was ready to give up until he came across a magazine article about his favorite actor.

Juan Jimenez: “An interview that they did to Denzel Washington. They ask you, ‘What code do you live by?’ And this changed me forever. He said, ‘I read from the Bible every day,’ and I was like, ‘No!'”

Juan started doing the same.

He says it gave him faith that he would find the key to locating his brother.

Juan Jimenez: “And from nowhere, I got this email. It was MyHeritage DNA company.”

In 2018, the company was offering free DNA testing for people looking for long-lost relatives.

Juan was selected to take a test. He took it and waited.

A year later, the company found Jhonatan — not in the United States, but in Europe.

Early last year, Juan flew from Miami to Norway to be reunited with Jhonatan.

Jhonatan Jimenez: “Hey, Mama! Hola, Mamita! Que tal?”

From there, they went to Colombia, so Jhonatan could meet his mother.

We visited with them all together in Bogota via Zoom.

Jhonatan Jimenez: “All my life, I wanted to find my family, but the need of doing it grew as I got older.”

Jhonatan grew up in Norway after being adopted from a Colombian orphanage at 3 years old.

Jhonatan Jimenez: “I had very few memories there and very little knowledge about what had actually happened to me.”

He tried DNA testing years before, but never found any relatives.

Jhonatan Jimenez: “Now, I have a brother who’s protecting me and who’s always standing up for me.”

Kevin Ozebek: “Juan, for you, what’s it like to be next to him?”

Juan Jimenez: “I don’t have enough words to express what this means for me.”

Juan says the family is focused on healing.

Part of that includes turning their story into a documentary.

Juan Jimenez: “It’s possible. Miracles exist, miracles do exist.”

Juan hopes by sharing his personal story of a loved one lost and found, he can inspire others to never give up a search for family.

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