Jeffrey Walkenford maybe also found

Jeffrey Scott Walkenford, aged 41, disappeared from Juneau, Alaska on May 15, 2010. Per this Alaska Dispatch News article, they’ve probably found him. Or, at least, they found human remains with some of Walkenford’s things nearby, including his clothes and his cell phone with selfies of Walkenford in it.

However…

“The human remains have not been positively identified as being Walkenford. Positive identification is estimated to take approximately 6 months,” [Juneau Police Department] said in a Wednesday release.

The police department sent the remains to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for analysis, but identification requires DNA testing outside of Alaska.

I’m not sure whether to pull him yet or not, then. I probably should. I mean, what are the chances that some guy who was dressed like Walkenford would die next to a pile of Walkenford’s stuff and NOT be Walkenford?

Adam Herrman’s adoptive father dies

I have written a great deal about the mysterious disappearance of Adam Herrman over the years, but this is my first entry on the subject since 2014. A recap:

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.

Anyway, fast forward to the present day: Doug Herrman has died of natural causes at the age of 61. This article says it was complications of a blood clot.

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.

I am so sick of this

The disappearance of little Jeremiah Oliver has got me thinking about all the other children out there who disappeared under similar circumstances — i.e. their disappearances were not reported for weeks or months or years, and there’s a good chance it was their own parents or guardians that harmed them. I thought I’d list their names again, and the lengths of time that passed in between time of disappearance and MP report.

Logan Bowman — 20 days
Austin Eugene Bryant — 8 years
Edward Dylan Bryant — 10 years
Adam Joseph Herrman — 9 years
James. P. Higham III — 28 days
Peter J. Kema Jr. — 3-4 months
Garnell Monroe Moore — 2 years
Erica Parsons — 1 year
Michelle Kelly Pulsifer — 32 years
Qua’mere Sincere Rogers — 8 months
Rene Alberto Romero — not sure, something less than 4 years
Dwight Stallings — 6 weeks
Aarone Thompson — 1 year, maybe?
Brittany Renee Williams — 2 years
Rilya Shenise Wilson 1 year
Patricia Wood — 11 years

I’m sure there are more. It’s just these are the only ones I can think of at present.

I’ll repeat what I said on this blog almost five years ago:

When you think about it, it could be shockingly easy to conceal your child’s disappearance, particularly with very young children who aren’t old enough to be enrolled in school (or who, like Garnell Moore, were never registered for school even when they got old enough). Families move away and lose touch. Kids are sent to live with relatives and aren’t seen anymore. If it was a single parent with one child and not much of an extended family, or if two parents collaborated and kept it a secret among themselves, and they kept their story straight, the lie could hold indefinitely. I read a book once about a scheme where parents would send their more troublesome teenage offspring to a rural “boarding school,” when in fact they were knowingly sending them to a facility that killed them and hid their bodies.

It seems to me that the main problem we have to deal with here (besides abusive and/or abetting family members) is a lack of community, a lack of neighbors looking out for neighbors, or extended family looking out for extended family. To give you an example of a case that DIDN’T turn into one of the kinds of disappearances listed above, I refer you to my Executed Today article about William Showers, who slaughtered his two grandsons after telling everyone they were getting adopted by a family in Texas. Who knows, Showers could have gotten away with murder had the neighbors not noticed that his story didn’t add up. They went to the cops within a few days, who launched a search for the boys and found their bodies.

Now, I’m not going to say that everything was rosy back in Ye Olden Times and people looked out for each other. In those days it was probably just as easy to conceal a child’s disappearance and it probably happened just as often, if not more so. But if more people paid attention to what was going on around them, instead of saying “it’s not my business” or simply not caring, maybe the disappearances on my list would have been reported sooner or maybe they wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

If nothing else, we need to learn some kind of lesson from the stories of the children listed above. This kind of thing should never happen at all.

Only a small update today

Five updated cases. That’s it. I’m feeling exceptionally lazy today and kind of down. Nothing major, it’s just that I keep reflecting on my life and all things I did and didn’t do and didn’t do well enough. I’ll get over it.

The largest update was for Erica Parsons. (And yes, her father’s name really is Sandy and her mom’s name is Casey, not the other way around.) Her case is starting to sound more like Adam Herrman‘s case every day. Let’s look at the similarities:

1. Both were adopted.
2. Both of them “ran away.”
3. Both of them were home-schooled, which is part of the reason their disappearances went unnoticed for so long.
4. In both cases, the adopted parents speculated their missing child was with biological family members.
5. Both of them were reported missing by an adult sibling, because the parents wouldn’t do it.
6. In both cases, members of the extended family came forward and said they’d seen the missing child being abused by their adopted parents.
7. In both cases, the adoptive parents got a subsidy from the state and continued to collect it for years after their child disappeared.

Rest in peace, Erica.

Sweet, the Herrmans got the max!

Adam Herrman‘s “parents” have gotten the maximum sentence for fraud: Doug got nine months in jail and Valerie got seven. (Doug got more because he had a prior criminal record.) I am very happy about this, because it looked like they wouldn’t serve any time at all. And of course they have to repay the money they stole, and court costs.

It must be said, of course, that the maximum is not very much here. But it’s better than nothing. As far as I’m concerned those two could never spend too many days behind bars.

From one article:

Butler County District Judge David Ricke gave Doug Herrman a nine-month sentence and Valerie Herrman a seven-month sentence — the maximum under the state sentencing grid. Ricke ordered that the couple be taken immediately into custody.

Their theft of $15,488 in state adoption subsidies for their adopted son was serious enough, Ricke said. But it isn’t just about the money, he said.

“This is about a boy named Adam Herrman, too,” Ricke said.

Adam is the 11-year-old adopted son who disappeared from the Herrmans’ Towanda home in 1999. The Herrmans never reported him missing, yet they continued to accept state money for his care, Ricke said.

If the Herrmans had told authorities that their son was missing, Ricke said, a missing-child alert could have been issued. There could have been search parties.

“His face should have been on milk cartons,” the judge said as the Herrmans and their attorneys listened.

“He deserved” to be reported missing, Ricke said.

But more than 12 years after Adam vanished, Ricke said, “this child is still missing.”

The judge described the couple’s inaction and action as “callous and emotionally detached” and as the “calculated abandonment of a child.”

It is a case, he said, of a child “whose interests were traded for money” by his parents.

Never was a truer thing said.

Articles:
The Wichita Eagle
The El Dorado Times
The Kansas City Star

And…here goes nothing

A few days ago I had been wondering on this blog what sort of trial Doug and Valerie Herrman would have for defrauding the state of Adam’s benefits after he “ran away from home” in 1999. As far as I could see there was no defense to be had: they did it. They knew what they were doing when they did it. They knew it was illegal and wrong. They confessed, many times. What possible defense could they present?

Well, evidently Doug and Valerie reached the same conclusion I did, because they reached a plea agreement with prosecutors: guilty to felony theft. They will have to pay restitution of $15,488, the amount they pleaded guilty to stealing. The agreement recommends a sentence of a year of probation and a $2,500 fine for each of them, but the judge could go as high as five to fifteen months in prison and $100,000. I seriously hope the judge decides to exceed the recommendation. These two need to serve some serious time.

Of course, as the Wichita Eagle puts it, the unresolved question here is what happened to Adam.

Nobody’s buying that “ran away” crap, Doug, Valerie. Everyone knows what really happened. I don’t care what sort of behavior problems the child had: Adam Herrman did not deserve to die the way he did, he did not deserve to be denied a proper resting place and the people who truly love him do not deserve to sit in limbo wondering what happened and where his body lies. So fess up. You’re going down either way.

What did you do to that little boy?