Adam was adopted out of foster care by Doug and Valerie Herrman, when he was two years old. He “ran away” from Towanda, Kansas sometime in the late spring or early summer of 1999, when he was ten or eleven years old. Doug and Valerie never reported him missing; his adoptive sister did, until 2008.
Subsequent investigation showed that Adam’s so-called parents had abused him prior to his disappearance, and after he went missing they told several different stories to family members to explain his absence. They also continued to claim him as a dependent on their taxes and collect subsidies for his care, both of which are illegal.
(A lesson for the uninitiated: Foster parents are paid a little — not nearly enough — to cover their expenses in caring for the kids. If you adopt a foster child, especially a special needs child, in many states they continue to pay you until they turns 18 or for as long as they live with you. A foster kid doesn’t necessarily need to have health problems to be considered “special needs.” The term also applies to older children, non-white children, members of a sibling group or any other type of kid who is considered difficult to place. Adam was a member of a sibling group, and even at two years old, he might have been considered an older child.)
Authorities have found no evidence that Adam is still alive and they’re pretty sure he was murdered by the Herrmans, but due to lack of evidence they were only able to get them for felony theft, regarding the subsidies they accepted after he was no longer living with them.
This is bad. With both of them alive, there was always the possibility that one might flip and testify against the other. Now, if Valerie is ever charged with Adam’s murder — and witnesses stated she was the more abusive parent and Doug sometimes even tried to protect him — she can blame Doug for the whole thing and claim she has no idea what happened or where Adam is. And on top of that, given that Valerie is also in poor health, it looks entirely possible that she too could die before this case is resolved.
But then again, they were able to convict Aarone Thompson‘s father of murder even after Aarone’s stepmother and co-abuser, Shely Lowe, died. So who knows.