Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Where is Adam Joseph Herrman born Irvin Groeninger III ?

Is Adam Herrman Still Alive?

An age progression image of Adam Herrman shows what he might look like at the age of 21. Image provided by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (I was unable to get this image to upload- so I've added an older image of him)

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the case to call the
Butler County Sheriff's Office, at (316) 220-1672.

Please send this message to everyone you know.



Sheriff working case of missing Butler County child as a death

Detectives are investigating the case of a Towanda boy who disappeared a decade ago as if the child were dead, even though they cannot rule out that he is still alive, Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy said today.
This morning Murphy released a fourth-grade picture of Adam Herrman, who disappeared from Towanda in the summer of 1999 when he was about 12, and asked the public to call with any information about Adam.

No one reported him missing for nine years. His adoptive parents have since said he ran away.

Murphy said investigators are working the case as a death because "when you are working it as a death you are digging deeper, longer."

He said this is the first case he has dealt with in decades of law enforcement work in which officers didn't learn that a child was missing until years later. A recent tip to the missing and exploited child unit led to the investigation.

The adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman of Derby, could face charges, according to Murphy. He said The Eagle reported that the couple continued to claim the child years after he disappeared, first in bankruptcy proceedings filed in 2002, and later in a divorce case filed in 2003. The divorce case was later dropped.

Sheriff's officers searched a mobile home park last week where the family once lived but did not find any human remains, Murphy said.

Investigators are planning to conduct more searches but have not said where.

Murphy said the child, who is described as having brown hair and brown eyes, may have been home-schooled. They believe he disappeared during the summer of 1999. According to records, the family moved from Towanda to the town of Sedgwick later that fall.

Murphy plans to conduct a telephone interview with CNN today, hoping the case will gain national attention and lead to more information. If Adam is alive, he could be out there anywhere, Murphy said.

The department plans to release a computer-enhanced photo soon showing what Adam would look like today if he is still alive. He was born June 8, 1987, in Wichita and would now be 21 years old.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Butler County Sheriff's investigative unit at 316-322-4254 or 316-322-4398, select option 8 on the voice recording, and ask to speak with the investigator on duty concerning Adam Herrman.

Relatives say missing Butler County boy was abused

On Super Bowl Sunday in 1999, the year Adam Herrman went missing but no one reported it, one of his aunts says she saw the 11-year-old chained to a bathtub faucet at his Towanda mobile home.
It looked like he had handcuffs on, said his aunt, Kim Winslow. Winslow, now 48, said it was the last time she saw Adam.

Other close relatives of Adam's adoptive mother, Valerie Herrman of Derby, say they saw her abuse him over the years and that he was forced to sleep in a bathtub. In at least one instance, a relative reported alleged abuse to authorities.

Butler County sheriff's officers plan to bring in search dogs and ground-penetrating radar to help solve the mystery of what happened to Adam Herrman.

The Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit received a tip about a month ago that the child had not been seen for nine years.

Detectives are investigating the case as if Adam were dead, even though they can't rule out that he is still alive, Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy said at a news conference Monday.

Warner Eisenbise, the Wichita attorney representing Herrman and her husband, Doug Herrman, Adam's adoptive father, said, "I firmly believe that they are innocent and had nothing to do with his death, if in fact he died."

But Eisenbise conceded that it is possible that the parents could be charged with failing to report a missing child.

Murphy released a fourth-grade picture of Adam, who authorities think disappeared from Towanda in the summer of 1999 when he was 11 or 12. Murphy asked the public to call with any information.

Relatives say Valerie Herrman, who is in her early 50s, had told them over the years that Adam was taken back into state custody. Recently, the adoptive parents have said through their attorney that Adam ran away and they did not report it.

Law enforcement agencies are bringing in search dogs from other states, Butler County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Kelly Herzet said.

"We're asking for all the resources we can ask for on this case," Herzet said.

Relatives' accounts

Winslow said Valerie Herrman, her sister, had told her that Super Bowl Sunday in 1999 that she locked Adam in the bathroom because he was behaving badly. But Winslow said she never saw Adam be a problem child or disobey Herrman.

Winslow, now living outside the Wichita area, and some of Herrman's other close relatives said they saw Herrman abuse Adam other times over the years but for the most part didn't report it and now feel terrible that he is missing.

When Adam was younger, maybe 7 or 8, and living with his adoptive family in Derby, Winslow said she heard her sister tell Adam to eat food that his younger siblings had left on their plates. He told her he was full, and she hit the back of his head, causing his face to come down in a plate, Winslow said.

Winslow said it bothered her. "I went over to him, and I rubbed his little head... and I talked to him" to soothe him, she said.

"I feel sick" for not reporting the incident, she said.

She said can't remember seeing Herrman be affectionate to Adam, as she was to her other children.

A brother's memory

Justin Herrman, 29, who is the biological son of Valerie and Doug Herrman, said he never saw his father abuse Adam.

"He's actually stopped it many times," said Justin Herrman, who was about 7 years older than Adam.

Over the years, at different homes around the Wichita area, his mother "would start hitting him or beating him with a belt," Justin said.

His father "would stop her and say, 'That's enough, Valerie,' " he said.

One time, Justin Herrman said, his mother threw Adam, then around 4 or 5, against a wall and pulled his hair, and Justin stepped in to stop it.

Justin Herrman said he called to report it and Derby police officers came to the home. But he said his mother persuaded him to tell the police that he lied. He said the officers lectured him about lying and left.

His mother started locking Adam in the bathroom, and the boy slept in the bathtub, Justin Herrman said.

"She would just tell us he was threatening us," and that he had mental problems and couldn't be trusted, Justin Herrman said of his mother.

He said that for years his mother told the family that Adam had gone back into state custody and only recently said that he ran away.

'We all believed it'

Margaret Davis, mother of Valerie Herrman, said she was stunned to hear that the attorney now says that Adam ran away.

Valerie and Doug Herrman had a number of foster children before adopting Adam and his two younger siblings, Davis said.

She said her daughter "can be very, very mean sometimes" and that they have been estranged off and on.

Once, at a Derby home where the Herrmans lived before they moved to Towanda, Valerie's aunt had to use the bathroom, and Valerie Herrman had to unlock it first.

Behind the locked bathroom door, Davis said, she saw Adam in the tub with a pillow and blanket.

Valerie Herrman told Adam to go immediately to his bedroom, and he obeyed, Davis said.

"She told us that he had threatened them... he was going to wait until they went to sleep, and he was going to kill them," Davis said.

Although Davis said she wasn't around Adam much, she said that when she was, he seemed to be "a darling little boy."

She said her daughter told the family that Adam went back into state custody. "We all believed it," she said.

Christmas Eve call

Linda Bush, a former sister-in-law of Valerie Herrman, said Valerie Herrman called her Dec. 24 and in a shaky voice told her that Adam was missing and that investigators suspected the Herrmans had something to do with his disappearance.

Bush, 55, of Wichita, said Valerie Herrman asked her to call detectives investigating his disappearance "and tell them about how they loved Adam, and she only wanted to do good when they took in foster children... that they would never hurt a child."

Bush said she never called the detectives.

In the Christmas Eve conversation, Valerie Herrman told her former sister-in-law "that she beat Adam once with a belt" and that Valerie had gone into her room and cried about it, remorseful.

Bush said Valerie Herrman told her that that after she used the belt, someone at Adam's school saw bruises, and authorities were called to investigate.

Authorities' next steps

At the news conference, Murphy said this is the first case he has dealt with in which officers didn't learn that a child was missing until years later.

Sheriff's officers searched the Towanda mobile home park last week where the family once lived but did not find any human remains, Murphy said.

Investigators are planning to conduct more searches but have not said where.

Murphy said Adam, who is described as having brown hair and brown eyes, may have been home-schooled. They believe he disappeared during the summer of 1999. According to records, the family moved from Towanda to the town of Sedgwick later that fall.

Investigators plan to release a computer-enhanced photo soon showing what Adam would look like today if he is still alive. He was born June 8, 1987, in Wichita and would now be 21.

Authorities ask family of missing boy for DNA
Detectives investigating the apparent disappearance of a boy from his Butler County home about nine years ago have asked his biological parents and sister for DNA samples, they said Saturday.

The samples could be compared to any evidence detectives find of him, they said.

Also Saturday, an attorney for Adam Herrman's adoptive parents said he ran away about nine years ago, when he was 11 or 12, that they didn't report it and that they feel "horribly guilty" for not doing so.

"And they've been feeling that guilt for nine years," Wichita attorney Warner Eisenbise said.

In interviews with The Eagle on Saturday, Adam's biological parents, who have divorced, said they wish he had not been removed from their custody.

"I feel like he wouldn't be missing if he would have been in my custody," said Irvin Groeninger II, Adam's biological father, who now lives in Indiana. Adam was named Irvin Groeninger III when he was born in Wichita in June 1987.

Adam's older biological sister, Tiffany Broadfoot, now 22 and living in Wichita, said that over the years she called Adam's adoptive mother to ask how he was doing.

At first, the adoptive mother said Adam was OK, but later she told Broadfoot not to call, Broadfoot said.

Broadfoot said investigators planned to collect a DNA sample from her Monday or Tuesday.

The investigators said they also plan to release Adam's picture to the media Monday, Broadfoot said.

"They thought that maybe it would help somebody to recognize him... that somebody would step up and say something," she said.

Investigators have not disclosed any pictures of Adam or his name or his adoptive parents' names.

Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Monday at the sheriff's offices in El Dorado.

So far, Murphy has said that the boy has possibly been missing since 1999, when he was 11 or 12 and living at a Towanda mobile home park, that no one ever reported him missing, and that detectives began investigating after a recent tip to the Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit. Investigators couldn't find any evidence that Adam is alive, Murphy said.

Investigators searched part of the mobile home park last week. The search answered only one of the investigators' questions, Murphy said, without elaborating.

History of running away

Eisenbise, attorney for the adoptive parents, said Adam "ran away so many times, that the last time they thought maybe he'll show up" or maybe he was with his biological family.

Adam had psychological problems and was difficult to control, Eisenbise said.

"They assumed that he was somewhere -- either a homeless person or back with members of his family," Eisenbise said.

"He had never contacted them. They assumed that he was OK."

Court records show that as late as 2003 -- about four years after Adam might have gone missing -- his adoptive parents listed him in their divorce case, later dismissed.

'An easygoing kid'

Broadfoot said that she, Adam and their younger siblings went to a couple's foster home in Derby. The same couple later adopted Adam and his younger siblings.

Broadfoot said she was about 5 when she went to the home, and less than a year later, she went to a foster family in Wichita who adopted her.

Adam and his adoptive family moved to Towanda. Apparently after he disappeared, they moved to Sedgwick and eventually back to Derby.

Broadfoot described Adam as "just an easygoing kid." One of his favorite things at the Derby home was taking bits of apples or carrots and standing on a fence to feed them to horses at a nearby farm.

She remembers him having dark, almost curly hair and "this cute, really round face."

She last saw him at her half-sister's birthday party when she was 7 or 8 and he was 5 or 6.

When she was 8 or 9, she got a Christmas letter from Adam and two younger siblings. She thinks it was Adam who wrote that he hoped he had been good enough to get a Tonka truck from Santa. He was about 6 then.

"When I was little, and even now, it has always been my dream to find my brothers and my sisters," Broadfoot said.

Several years ago, when she was about 16, she tried to contact Adam and her other siblings. By telephone, she talked to Adam's adoptive mother, who said that Adam was fine, Broadfoot said.

About three years ago, Broadfoot said she called the adoptive mother and asked to speak to Adam, but the adoptive mother told her not to contact her anymore because she didn't want the siblings to know they were adopted, Broadfoot said.

Broadfoot tried again, without success, to contact Adam last year, she said.

Then last month, she said, her biological father --Groeninger, a 44-year-old truck driver living in Indiana -- called her and said, "Are you sitting down? Because I need to talk to you."

He said a detective told him that Adam had been missing since 1999.

"I said, 'How could that be?' " Broadfoot said.

The last time Groeninger saw his son was when the boy was about 18 months old -- about 20 years ago. He and Adam's mother divorced, and Adam and his siblings ended up in state custody.

Groeninger said a Butler County sheriff's detective told him that Adam had been reported missing Dec. 5.

"He said he's been missing nine years, and that just blew my mind," Groeninger said.

'Not... a good parent'

Adam's biological mother, Gerri George, is 46 and works as a Wal-Mart cashier in Colorado.

She said her son was born at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita and that he went into state custody at about age 2.

"I had been a little bit not exactly a good parent," she said, adding she had left a bruise on an older child. Still, she said, she did her best to give her children a good home.

She last saw her son when he was about 4.

She last got a picture of him -- mailed by his adoptive mother -- in 1993. He was 6.

On the back was his new name: Adam Joseph Herrman.

She said Broadfoot called her a couple weeks ago to tell her Adam was missing.

"She just said, 'Mom, don't have a heart attack... but one of your kids came up missing, and they said there's no record of him.' "

Then Friday, a Butler County investigator asked her to give a DNA sample "in case they do find a clue or a hint of him, that they can do a comparison to make sure it is him," she said.

She said investigators told her "they do not have a single clue" about what happened to Adam.

Now, she is raising two children, one 7 and one 9.

And she wishes Adam and the other children had remained with her. "I always have," she said.

Every holiday, she starts and ends the day crying over the children whose custody she lost, she said.

"I still cry, because I miss them."

BY TIM POTTER - The Wichita Eagle

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or

Contributing: Hurst Laviana of The Eagle

RELATED - Relatives say missing Butler County boy was abused // Current

Children Who Didn’t Have to Die - Website

"The state is now more involved than it has ever been in the raising of children, and children are now more neglected, abused, and mistreated than they have been in our time. This is not a coincidence, and, with all due respect, I am here to tell you: It does not take a village to raise a child. - It takes a family." - By Senator Robert Dole

REFRESH - Go to Home-Page

No comments: