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.”

Charges pending in Adam Herrman case?

The police think they now have enough evidence to charge Adam Herrman’s adoptive parents in his disappearance, although they don’t say what charges they have in mind. I’m so glad. The cops have presented the case to the prosecuting attorney to set the wheels in motion. I really, really, really hope the DA jumps on this. Of course I didn’t expect the Herrmans to get away scot-free, but I’m relieved to know something seems to be happening here at last.

At minimum, we’re looking at some serious fraud charges, for all the money they took from the state under false pretenses. The Herrmans admitted to it, so that should be no problem. I have no idea how much time you get for that, but it should keep them on ice for a little while. However, I’m guessing the cops are thinking more about child abuse charges or even murder.

Additional articles:

The Wichita Eagle
Kansas CW Channel 33
The Kansas City Star
The Augusta Daily Gazette

Some people really need to keep their mouths shut

As a rule of thumb, people tend to be much more outspoken on the internet than they are in real life. I think it’s because they can’t see and usually don’t know who they’re talking to: it’s like shouting into a void. Hence the internet is a wonderful avenue for free expression and facilitates creativity. However, it also facilitates spitefulness, rudeness, crudity and gossip. I’ve seen a lot of that in discussions of crimes and missing people.

A lot of times, if a woman disappears, blog posters and web board commenters say a lot of nasty things about her husband or boyfriend and say he “must” have killed her, or they “have a feeling” he harmed her. Even if there is no evidence against the significant other. Even if the police have ruled him out as a suspect. The same happens to the parents of missing children. Many people will blame them for the child’s disappearance. If they don’t accuse them of actually killing the kid, they say negligent parenting lead to the child’s disappearance. For example: “I can’t believe she left her eight-year-old unattended in another room for a whole hour without checking on her. That’s just inexcusable.” Or: “I can’t believe he let his teen daughter leave the house without a cell phone.”

Worst of all, I think, are cruel posts criticizing the missing person themselves. Often these posters have no idea what they’re talking about, but that doesn’t stop them from saying nasty things about the MP and suggesting that he/she must have been up to no good. A real-life example: the missing woman Margaret Haddican-McEnroe occasionally used another name, Sherwood Haley, and articles about the case noted this. I saw one comment on an article saying something to the effect of, “She was using an alias name. Why? She must have been leading a double life of some kind. I bet she was a prostitute or something.” I was appalled to read that. Margaret had a perfectly innocent reason to use the name Sherwood Haley: she’d been adopted, and Sherwood Haley was her birth name. (A terrible, awful name to give a baby girl, but that’s beside the point.) So it’s not even really an alias. I can just imagine how horrible and angry her husband and family would have felt if they had come across that post. I don’t think the poster necessarily had any malicious intent; he/she may have been just thinking aloud and forgot that anyone in the world can read the post. But that’s no excuse. The poster was libeling a woman they didn’t know, a woman who in all likelihood was the victim of a heinous crime.

I try to be careful not to criticize the families of the missing unless there’s evidence that they deserve it. I’ve done several posts on Adam Herrman and his adoptive mother and father, but frankly, it’s obvious what happened there. In absence of actual evidence, I NEVER say I have a “feeling” that a specific person must have killed the MP. That kind of statement is baseless and unhelpful; all it can do is hurt.

That’s not to say I don’t get “feelings.” In one case of a missing toddler, Lucy Meadows, I had my suspicions of her mother for years. Mom claimed Lucy disappeared from a parking lot in the time it took her (Mom) to walk around the side of their car. That seemed unlikely to me, that an abductor could grab Lucy that quickly and get away without being seen. But I kept my thoughts to myself, because I could well have been mistaken about Mom, and if I was I didn’t want to inflict more pain on the family. It turned out I was probably right—a few years ago, an eyewitness came forward with a statement that strongly implicates the missing girl’s mother. Mom hasn’t been charged yet, but there is actual evidence now, and I feel comfortable stating my opinion in public.

Some people who talk about “feelings” get them for the stupidest reasons. In an interview with Shannon Tanner, the missing girl Bianca Piper‘s mom, Tanner said she met someone randomly who brought up the case. The other woman didn’t know she was speaking to Bianca’s mother. The woman said she thought Tanner must have killed Bianca, because “she didn’t cry hard enough on TV.” If I were Shannon Tanner, I would have punched that woman then and there. Even reading about this in the news gave me the urge to track that person down and give them a piece of my mind.

A lot of people base their “feelings” on reactions of the so-called suspect after the disappearance. As if all innocent loved ones of a missing person should act exactly the same, as if there’s a secret written code of behavior for that situation! You can never tell how you’re going to react under extreme circumstances, and when the time comes it may very well be not at all what you would expect. To give another example: a little over a year ago I accidentally ran my car into high water late at night in below freezing weather in a desolate area where I didn’t really know where I was. The car filled up with water and it looked like there was a good chance that I was going to drown or freeze to death. (Conditions were so bad that even after the rescue people found me, it took half an hour or so for them to actually get to my car and extract me. The nice policeman carried me piggy-back across the flooded zone.) What did I do when I realized the seriousness of my situation? I burst out laughing! I was practically doubled over, laughing fit to burst, and couldn’t stop for several minutes, as the water level in the car continued to rise. That experience has made me make a lot of allowances for people’s supposedly bizarre behavior in cases of crimes, disappearances, etc.

I’m not really trying to say I’m any better than anyone else. The “be careful about what you say online” lesson was learned on my part through very bad experience. I look back on stuff I said online during my early to mid adolescence and just cringe. I only wish certain other people who post on the internet would give a thought to what their words might mean to all the others behind the screen.

(No recent event prompted this rant, btw, it’s just something that’s been on my mind.)

Adam Herrman case moving forward

Police made a fourth and final search for evidence in Adam’s case. Nothing was found, however, and they plan to present a case to the prosecutor shortly. I really hope that charges result. At the very least, the Herrmans can be convicted of fraud; they have admitted they accepted public assistance money for Adam after he “ran away.” But my hope is that the DA decides to go a lot further than that.

I wonder about Adam’s two younger siblings who were also adopted by Doug and Valerie Herrman. Are they still under 18? If so, are they still in the Herrmans’ custody? Have they been interviewed by police? Nothing has been said about them.

Adam Herrman Post IV

The Cleveland Examiner has done a pretty good summary of Adam’s case. According to the Kansas City Star, the police are concentrating on the bathroom at the Herrmans’ former home. Perhaps looking for evidence to substantiate the allegations that he was locked up in there, made to sleep in the tub, etc?

I’m very glad the police seem to be really on this, though how could they not be, with all the publicity and pressure to solve the case. Adam’s disappearance has been plastered on the news all over the US and probably internationally too; if he was alive, he would have seen it and come forward. But I didn’t believe for one minute that Adam was alive past the summer of 1999.

I only hope they can find him so the people who actually cared about him can bury him.

Well, this is kind of a no-brainer

Adam Herrman’s adoptive parents have finally been named as suspects in his case. Shocking, isn’t it? From the article:

While public pressure has been mounting to move the case forward and hold someone accountable, Satterfield said police and prosecutors will take their time building a case. […] “We’re not going to respond to the public pressure,” said Satterfield. “We’re going to do the right thing and these things take time.” That is quite proper — take all the time you need, I don’t think the Herrmans are going anywhere. I hope sufficient evidence is available to charge them and I hope they get whatever the maximum sentence is.

Additional links:

Fox News
The Kansas City Star

More on Adam Herrman

I added his case to Charley two days ago, then updated it yesterday with more information and the AP the NCMEC put out. (They sure are quick.) Now all and sundry and coming forward with abuse stories. Of course they didn’t bother to report any of it when it happened, or if they did, authorities ignored the complaints. It was Adam’s adoptive sister who finally blew the whistle, it turns out. It seems she tried to find Adam through the social services and was told he’d been with the Herrmans until he turned 18, which she knew wasn’t true, and she decided to go to the police. It is commendable that she did so, given as how she was turning in her own parents, but it’s too little, too late.

The Criminal Report Daily did a nice blog entry on Adam’s case. I especially like this line: Valerie Herrman has allegedly admitted to spanking Adam with a belt and forcing him to sleep in the bathtub, but she denies he was abused. Her definition of abuse remains unclear.

One might wonder why Adam’s case is getting so much attention when other cases of children not reported missing for years haven’t been talked about much in the media. I could only find a few articles on the baby Prisma Ortiz Ruiz whom I spoke of in the previous post. I found just one article on Garnell Moore (though it was a long one), who wasn’t reported missing for three years. My guess would be the intense media coverage is because Adam was missing unnoticed for much longer than anyone I’ve ever heard of (except Michelle Pulsifer), he was white, and it’s pretty clear he was murdered.