Adam Herrman’s so-called parents facing trial

According to the Wichita Eagle, the adoptive “parents” of Adam Herrman will go to trial in a week on charges of stealing money from the state that was meant to pay for his care. I have written enough about Adam and his very sad story that he has his own sub-category on this blog.

I can’t imagine what kind of defense Doug and Valerie Herrman will have. They have confessed many times that they took the money. They admit they lied many times on official documents and such that Adam was living with them when he was not. They admit that this fraud went on for years. The only thing I can think of is that the defense might try to mitigate their sentences or something.

Of course, the real question is: Where is Adam? Most likely: Where is he buried? Perhaps the looming specter of prison time for fraud might convince one of the Herrmans to flip and testify against the other about Adam’s disappearance. But it hasn’t happened yet.

Doug and Valerie Herrman plead not guilty to fraud

Doug and Valerie Herrman, the sorry excuses for parents of Adam Herrman (you know, the boy who supposedly ran away back in 1999 when he was 11, and his parents never reported him missing and it didn’t come out until late 2008, yeah, remember him?), have pleaded not guilty to fraud. Doug and Valerie had adopted Adam out of foster care when he was little. They collected over $50,000 in benefits such as adoption subsidies, etc., for Adam after he was no longer living in their home. Their attorney calls it a “technical violation.” Uh-huh, right. The trial is set for June.

Of course, Doug and Valerie are suspected of being guilty of far graver crimes than that. But right now, the Butler County District Attorney’s Office will take what it can get. The investigation into Adam’s disappearance has been quiet for awhile, but remains open and active.

I hope they dream about him every night.

Delayed-notification missing children

I’ve cobbled together a list of, I think, all the kids on Charley whose disappearances were not reported for a significant time period. It’s longer than I thought, alas, and took a long time to put together:

Nicholas Plaza, 5, missing from San Antonio, Texas on October 23, 2001. Not reported until November 21, nearly a month later. Believed murdered by Mom’s boyfriend. Mother pleaded guilty to injury of a child by omission and got 20 years; her boyfriend was convicted of injury to a child and got 67 years.

Sheri Johnson, 4, and her brother Michael, 10 months. Disappeared with their mother, Freda Denman, and her husband, Henry Harbison, from Independence, Missouri sometime in November 1974. Not reported until March 1975, presumably because the whole family was gone. It is believed Harbison killed his wife and her children, but this hasn’t been confirmed and none of them were ever found.

Barry “Bucky” Kephart, 11, missing from Albuquerque, New Mexico since August 22, 1981. Not reported for two days. Authorities believe his father, Barry Sr., beat him to death. Unfortunately the statute of limitations has expired for any crimes Barry Sr. might have been charged with.

Kyanja Vanwey, 17, missing from Des Moines, Iowa since September 14, 2005. Not reported missing until January 4, 2006, for unclear reasons. Thought to be a runaway.

Twins Brenttany and Brent Hughes, 4, their half-sister Sarena Glenn, 9, and their aunt Jennifer Hughes, 17. Disappeared from Fayetteville, North Carolina sometime in December 1996 with Robby Floyd, who was Jennifer’s sister and mother to the younger children. Not reported missing until August 1998, as Robby was frequently out of touch with her family. I’ve heard rumors to the affect that this family has been found, but I haven’t had any confirmation.

Peter Kema, 6, missing from Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in the summer of 1997. Not reported until January 1998. Suffered horrifying abuse, neglect and deprivation before his disappearance, and is thought to have been murdered by his father. No charges have been filed against anyone in his case.

Michelle Pulsfier, 3, missing from Huntington Beach, California sometime in July 1969. Not reported for OVER THIRTY YEARS — not for lack of trying on the part of her father, but because Mom, who had custody, packed up and moved in a tearing hurry and insisted Michelle wasn’t really missing. Thought to be murdered by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. Both were charged with murder, but the boyfriend died before trial and Mom was tried twice and got a hung jury both times before prosecutors gave up.

Logan Nathaniel Bowman, 5, missing from Galax, Virginia since January 7, 2003. Not reported until January 23. Thought to be murdered by Mom and BF. (Notice a pattern here?) Mom pleaded guilty to child abuse, got fifteen years and testified at BF’s murder trial, but the charges were dismissed midway through; he was only convicted of child neglect, and got a year.

Aron Silverman, 17, missing from Norfolk, Virginia since June 5, 1993. Not reported for weeks because of his history as a runaway. Still classified as a runaway, but seventeen years is a very long time to be silent.

Karen Beth Kamsch, 14, missing from Pasadena, Maryland since the winter of 1976. Supposedly a report was filed in 1976, but there’s no evidence to support that, and the only known report was filed in 2007, TWENTY-NINE YEARS LATER. Foul play suspected, probably at the hands of family. No news in this case for the past three years.

Adam Herrman, 11 or 12, missing from Towanda, Kansas since sometime in late spring or early summer 1999. Not reported for TEN YEARS. Adoptive parents suspected. I’ve blogged extensively about this case.

Alexandria Suleski, 5, missing from Radcliff, Kentucky since October 23, 1989. Not reported for three days. Her father and stepmother were convicted of her murder in 1994.

Brianna Maitland, 17, missing from Montgomery, Vermont since March 19, 2004. Not reported for four days because she lived with a roommate and her roommate thought she was staying at her parents’ home. Foul play suspected.

Emily Machado, 2, missing from Berwyn, Illinois since March 14, 2008. Abducted by her non-custodial mother. Her father tried to report her missing, but the police wouldn’t accept a report for six months because she was with her mother. Emily’s parents never married and although her father had established paternity, it seems he didn’t have custody rights when Emily disappeared. He has now been awarded full custody.

Brenda Crowley, 16, missing from New York, New York since February or March 1980. Mom lied to the family about filing a missing persons report. We may never know why, because Mom died in 1981 — she was murdered by a man she knew in an unrelated incident. The lie wasn’t discovered until 1994 and Brenda’s sister filed a report at that time.

Nicole Bryner, 3, missing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since March 9, 1982. Not reported until March 11. Mom said she was kidnapped, but it later came out that her BF had killed Nicole and they’d buried the body and concocted the story together. BF confessed in 1986, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. Mom died in 2001. In 2006, BF was charged with homicide again in Nicole’s case and this time he pleaded to involuntary manslaughter.

James Higham, 16, missing from Youngstown, Ohio since January 3, 2002. Not reported for 28 days. James had mental and emotional problems and was homeschooled and living with foster parents with some loose connections to his family. The foster parents, who said he’d run away, were charged with neglect for waiting so long to report him missing. In 2007, foster mom confessed that she and foster dad had drowned James, dismembered the body and distributed the parts to various dumpsters. She pleaded to child endangerment and got four years. Foster dad pleaded to reckless homicide and got seven years.

Marlon Santos, 5 months, missing from Worcester, Massachusetts since November 5, 1998. Not reported for two days. His foster parents said they were too busy. Uh-huh. Foster parents are the prime suspects in Marlon’s case. No charges have been filed in that case, but the foster father later went to jail for sexually abusing other children.

Pilar Rodriguez, 3, missing from Hollywood, Florida since January 30, 1999. Not reported until February 22. Pilar’s father had let her go on vacation with her babysitter for a few weeks and he filed the reported after they didn’t come back. Babysitter said she witnessed her BF murder Pilar. In 2010, babysitter was charged with manslaughter by “culpable negligence,” meaning she failed to prevent Pilar’s death at the hands of someone else. BF has not been charged.

Mary Kitts, 17, missing from Fresno, California since sometime in July 1974. Not reported until November because her parents thought she’d run away. Mary had actually been murdered by a “friend” at the direction of another “friend.” The actual killer pleaded to second-degree murder and is probably out of prison now, though I’m not sure what sentence he got. The instigator got life and was later executed after he ordered the murders of some of the witnesses against him.

Mark Martin, 2, missing from Hazel Park, Michigan since August 31, 1981, along with his mother, Carolyn. Not reported until the spring of 1982. Mark, Carolyn and her BF (Mark’s father) were moving to Texas together. BF later came back alone and said Carolyn had changed her mind and he’d let her and Mark out of the car in Ohio. No charges filed, but foul play is suspected.

Walter Ackerson, 17, missing from Nye Beach, Oregon since March 24, 1990. Not reported until April 16. He was in the Job Corps at the time. His mom asked the Job Corps to report him missing and they said they would, but they didn’t really and she didn’t find out for three weeks. In 2010, one of Walter’s former Job Corps “friends” was charged with his murder.

Rocio Sperry, 15, missing from Colorado Springs, Colorado since November 10, 1987. Not reported until November 14. She was married and had a baby, and her husband and baby were in Florida at the time of her disappearance. He reported her missing upon his return home. In 2006, the serial killer Robert Browne pleaded guilty to Rocio’s murder.

Michelle Giusti, 1 year, missing from Port Townsend, Washington since March 5, 1963. Not reported for four days, for unclear reasons. She disappeared with her mother, Sharon, and ten-month-old sister, Clara (have no pic and therefore no link for Clara). Their car was later found abandoned. Little evidence is available in their case but their disappearances are considered suspicious.

Monique Daniels, 15, missing from Moore, Oklahoma since June 2, 1992. Not reported for eighteen months. Her mom and stepdad said they didn’t report it because they thought she had run away and would come back on her own; other relatives finally filed the report. There is evidence that the stepfather tried to cover up Monique’s disappearance, and foul play is possible in her case.

Christopher Szczepanik, 7, missing from Omaha, Nebraska since mid-December 2009. Not reported until January 8. He disappeared with his parents Vanderlei and Jaqueline, and they weren’t missed initially because it was Christmas vacation and everyone thought the family had just gone on a trip. It’s considered very suspicious, and some of the family’s employees were charged with using their credit cards after their disappearances.

Ta’Niyah Leonard, 11 months, missing from Bartow, Florida since October 19, 2002. Not reported until a day later. (This may not seem like an “extended time period” but come on, she was a BABY.) Each parent has said the other one killed the baby (though this didn’t stop them from hooking up and later producing another baby, which was immediately put in foster care) and the authorities can’t figure out which is the guilty party.

Princess Perez, 2, missing from New York, New York since June 15, 1996. Not reported until 1998. Mom said Dad killed Princess; Dad said Princess died of natural causes and he decided to hide the body instead of report it. No criminal charges have been filed, though Dad was charged in family court with abusing his other children by murdering Princess in their presence.

Jody Ledkins, 14, missing from Kansas City, Missouri since May 23, 1985. Not reported until 1987. Jody was on probation at the time of her disappearance and her mom told the probation officer she was missing. The probation officer filed something like a PINS warrant (person in need of supervision), meaning the police should detain Jody if they came across her. Mom assumed this meant a missing persons report had been filed; not so. The mistake was not corrected for two years. Foul play is suspected.

Olisa Williams, 10 months, missing from Ann Arbor, Michigan sometime in June 1982. Most agencies give the date of disappearance as February 8, 1983 — perhaps that was the date it was reported, I’m not sure, I just know her disappearance was not reported right away. Her father is believed to have either killed her, sold her or given her away. No charges filed.

Barbara Cotton, 15, missing from Williston, North Dakota since April 11, 1981. Not reported for several days because they thought she’d run away. Foul play is now suspected. The prime suspect is a former boyfriend, but he is now dead. I don’t have anything else on this case.

Andrew Thompson, 8, and his brother Everett Thompson Jr., 11, missing from Chicago, Illinois since July 5, 1996. They disappeared with their parents, Everett Sr. and Lydia. Not reported for twelve days, because the entire family was gone. Lydia’s brother is the prime suspect. Foul play is suspected.

Barry Brown, 6, and his siblings Sheketah, 10, and Brandon, 2, missing from Port St. Lucie, Florida since July 25, 1985. Not reported until August. They disappeared with their mother, Carolyn, and, initially, their father, James. The older Browns were teachers and since they vanished during summer vacation, it wasn’t immediately noticed. It transpired that James had killed his entire family and disposed of their bodies in different locations. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in late 1985 and hospitalized until 1996, when he moved to a halfway house. He was released into the community in 1997. No word on what’s happened since, although it appears his mental illness is not fully controlled.

Brittany Williams, 7, missing from Richmond, Virginia since August 18, 2000. Not reported until January 2003. Brittany had AIDS and was living with a foster mother, Kim Parker, who specialized in caring for HIV-infected children. Parker covered up the disappearance by saying she’d sent Brittany to stay with friends. In 2003, she was sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud, for accepting state and federal aid for Brittany after Brittany was no longer with her. They think she’s guilty of a lot more than that, though.

Garnell Moore, 7, missing from Baltimore, Maryland since sometime in August 2002. Not reported until June 2005. Garnell’s parents were not part of his life and he appears to have been passed around to various apathetic relatives. It seems to be a situation where everyone thought he was with someone else, until they all got together and realized he wasn’t with any of them and come to think of it, they hadn’t seen him in a very long time. You can’t say Garnell fell through the cracks of the system, because he was never in the system in the first place — never enrolled in school, never under any kind of social services supervision. What happened to him is anyone’s guess, though I’d be looking hard at his aunt, who is the last person known to have had him.

Qua’mere Rogers, 2, missing from Syracuse, New York since sometime in July 2007. Not reported for two years. Dad, who was Qua’mere’s only caregiver, claims he gave him to a strange man who promised to keep in touch and then didn’t. Dad was charged with child abandonment, but that was dropped.

Rilya Wilson, 4, missing from Miami, Florida since January 18, 2001. Not reported until April 2002. The famous case everyone’s heard of, which exposed the weeping wounds in Florida’s foster care system. Rilya’s foster mom claimed someone claiming to be a social worker took Rilya away. The story was untrue and the ruse went undiscovered for over a year because the actual social worker who was supposed to be checking up on Rilya was not doing so and falsifying records to make it look as if she had. Foster mom was charged with murder in 2005, but she has yet to go to trial and frankly, the case looks very weak. I don’t doubt the woman killed Rilya, but can they prove it?

Rene Romero, 4, missing from Reno, Nevada since November 28, 1994. Not reported for some time — I’m not sure how long, months at least. His mom and her BF made like Michelle Pulsifer’s parents and up and moved so no one would notice Rene was gone. Mom pleaded guilty to Rene’s murder and the BF was convicted at trial. Each one had accused the other.

Alexia Reale, 5, missing from Elk Grove, California since May or June 1997. Not reported until the autumn of that year. Alexia’s mother and stepfather forced her and her sister to drink bleach and subjected them to other abuse and, when Alexia died, they burned her body. They covered up the disappearance by saying Alexia had gone to live with her biological father, and the terrified sister went along with the story for months until a teacher noticed the signs of abuse and the police got involved. Then the story came out. Both of Alexia’s parents were convicted of murder and child abuse in 2000.

Christina Richart, 14, missing from Ozark, Arkansas since the summer of 1999. Not reported for six years. Christina lived with her aunt and uncle, who covered up her disappearance by saying she’d gone to California to live with another relative. The deception wasn’t discovered until 2005, although in the meantime one of Christina’s brothers was removed from the home due to abuse allegations. Authorities believe the aunt drowned Christina, but so far the only criminal charges against the couple have been for making false statements to the police.

Aarone Thompson, 6, missing from Aurora, Colorado since around 2003 or so. Not reported until November 2005, when her dad and stepmom tried to claim she’d run away from home after a family argument. Their story collapsed as it became increasingly clear that Aarone wasn’t living in their home and hadn’t been there in a long time. It seems that one caregiver or the other killed the child and then covered it up. Unfortunately the stepmother died before she could face charges, but Dad was convicted of child abuse resulting in death in 2009.

UPDATE: Whoops, forgot a few. I knew I would.

Ke’Shaun Vanderhorst, 2, missing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since September 25, 1995. Not reported until October 13. Mom said he’d been taken away by the state and her family bought that story for awhile, until an aunt became suspicious and went to the police. Mom was a crack addict who’d already lost custody of two sons. Four other children died in infancy in the 1980s, all supposedly of natural causes. Ke’Shaun was born in prison. Mom told several different stories to explain his disappearance, including one where she sold him to a woman and another where he was kidnapped. She was jailed for child endangerment in 1996; no other charges related to this case were filed.

Logan Tucker, 6, missing from Woodward, Oklahoma since June 23, 2002. Not reported until July 7. Mom used the old “the state took him away” story and the lie held for awhile. In August 2007, Mom was convicted of Logan’s murder. The jury deliberated only two hours.

Doug and Valerie Herrman make their court appearance

I found this article about Doug and Valerie Herrman, the prime suspects in the 1999 disappearance of their adopted son Adam whom I’ve written about many times before. Doug and Valerie are currently facing fraud charges; they admitted to receiving tens of thousands in state benefits for Adam’s care after he had “run away” from their home. That’s really the least of their worries, but that’s all that’s on the plate…for now.

The article, and this one too, have pictures of the Herrmans, the first I’ve seen. I will have to put some in Adam’s casefile.

Charges FINALLY filed in Adam Herrman case

I have blogged extensively before about Adam Herrman, who was eleven or twelve when he disappeared from Towanda, Kansas sometime in the late spring or summer of 1999. His adoptive “parents” never reported his disappearance and they lied to his other relatives so for close to a decade no one even realized he was missing. After his disappearance was finally discovered it came out that his adoptive mother, Valerie Herrman, abused him pretty badly.

Anyway, Valerie and her husband Doug have been charged with welfare theft. I had expected they would be charged with this eventually, since they admitted accepting about monthly state welfare benefits for Adam after he was no longer in their care. The total came to $52,800. They also accepted an adoption subsidy and claimed Adam as a dependent on their taxes.

They have posted bail and been released pending trial. Their attorneys claim it was just a “technical financial offense” and they will try to get the charges dismissed. Um…yeah. I really don’t buy that. Even if we actually accept the story that Adam ran away from home and his parents didn’t report him missing because they would get in trouble (and no one accepts that story), the Herrmans would have eventually realized he was not coming back and should have canceled the payments and subsidies then. It might be a “technical offense” if they didn’t report this for a month or two. Six or seven years, though? Less so.

The prosecutor said these charges are “just the beginning” for the Herrmans and she hopes the investigation will be wrapped up and more charges (including, possibly, homicide charges) filed by the end of the year. In the meantime, welfare fraud is easy to prove and should keep them in cold storage for a little while, at least, though I can’t find anything on how much time they’re facing.

The Tulsa World
The Oklahoman
KAKE 10 (includes a video of Adam’s biological father)

They’re still working on the Adam Hermann case

Over a year after the 1999 disappearance of ten-year-old Adam Herrman first came to the attention of police, they have reassured the public that they’re still plugging away at the little boy’s disappearance and probable murder.

[Butler County Attorney Jan] Satterfield says her goal is to have the case to a grand jury by this time next year. Since this is such a complex case, she’d like jurors to help determine whether there’s enough evidence to charge Herrman’s adoptive parents… If a grand jury makes an indictment, the case would go directly to trial.

I only hope that will be the case. The fact that no one even realized this kid was missing for close to a decade is horrible enough. Justice delayed is still justice, and I can’t think of anyone who needs it more. If nothing else, they can get Adam’s adoptive parents for fraud, for accepting benefits for him when he was no longer in their care. My rough estimate is they took about $60,000 in state benefits under false pretenses. But I believe that’s the least of their crimes.

Adam’s case reminds me very much of Peter Kema‘s — another case that remains officially unsolved even though everybody knows what happened to him and who did it.

Adam Herrman DA says, hold your horses

The prosecutor involved in the Adam Herrman case says it may be months before she decides to file charges against anyone (meaning: his adoptive “parents”) in his disappearance.

Good, sez I. The Herrmans would be facing very serious charges, possibly murder, and this isn’t something you should rush into. You need time to put a solid case together or they could get off. And it doesn’t seem like they’re going anywhere in the meantime. (I do wonder how they are surviving in the community. I bet they’re getting, at minimum, a lot of dirty looks.) I think the best policy in a case like this is to, as they say, “make haste slowly.”