Friday, July 30, 2010
The adoptive parents of a boy missing for more than a decade are now formally charged with fraud. Doug and Valerie Herrman are accused of continuing to cash SRS checks even after they knew Adam Herrman was no longer in their care.
Adam was reportedly missing for 10 years before authorities were notified that he was gone. After the hearing, Butler County Attorney Jan Satterfield said that her office is continuing to pursue homicide charges against the couple.
"I think we're within a few months... 2-3 months," Satterfield said. "There are a few things we need to get finalized; a few reports we need to obtain and an expert we still need to secure, but we've been working diligently on the case."
Today, the Herrman's daughter says she believes her parents made a horrible mistake, but that they are not monsters. On the condition that we shield her face and call her only by her first name, Crystal says her parents are good people who simply should not have continued to cash those checks. She says they did not murder Adam Herrman.
"He was a cute kid who was always smiling," Crystal said.
She remembers growing up with Adam Herrman. Her mother wanted more children after her and her brother were born, but the Herrman's couldn't, so they decided to get into foster care.
"They helped a lot of children out. At one time, I remember there was 12 of us, including my parents," Crystal said.
She knows how it looks and what people think. Prosecutors have been public about their belief that the Herrman's murdered Adam, but Crystal has never seen any evidence of that.
"I hear how people think they did it for money, but my dad did very well with his business," explained Crystal. "They were always helping family out. My mom would give her last shirt to anybody."
Crystal had her own doubts about her parents innocence when things began unraveling. After trying to organize a family reunion, she contacted SRS to locate Adam. SRS then said they believed Adam was still with the Herrman's. That prompted the investigation in December, 2008.
Crystal is sometimes questioned about how she can continue to love her parents.
"They don't understand unless they walk in our shoes," she said. "They taught me to cook and drive. They were there for my children when they were born. They babysat all of our children. It's not like you can just have an on and off button for love, you know?"
Crystal hasn't spoken to her parents in a long time. The case has severely affected her family.
"I just keep hanging on to the hope that he is alive and well out there," she said.
The Herrman's have said that 11 year-old Adam ran away in 1999 from the mobile home park in Towanda where the family lived. His absence wasn't reported until Crystal tried to track him down for that family reunion two years ago.
Doug and Valerie Herrman will face a preliminary hearing on the fraud charges on September 23 in Butler County District Court.