Family members of Doug and Valerie Herrman, including their own biological children, have come forward with claims they witnessed abuse in the home years before 11-year-old Adam Herrman mysteriously vanished.
Amidst all the allegations and intense scrutiny, the Herrmans maintain their innocence. They admit it was a mistake not to report Adam missing in 1999, but insist they had nothing to do with his disappearance and say they showed him unconditional love.
Adam was adopted into the Herrman family in the early 90s.
While the Herrmans say they are reluctant to give any on-camera interviews at this time, KAKE News has obtained police reports and confirmation from SRS that may help support some of the Herrman's claims of innocence.
According to public police reports, Doug and Valerie Herrman lived in Derby in 1996 and 1997. During those years, authorities investigated two reports of alleged abuse involving Adam.
The 1996 report does not list who called police. However, Derby investigators say they forwarded evidence to SRS after completing their own review of the case.
Michelle Ponce, a spokesperson for SRS, says the agency conducted its own investigation into the alleged abuse, and found no signs of wrong-doing.
"In 1996, our agency did receive a report of suspected abuse," Ponce confirmed. "It was investigated fully and ultimately found to be unsubstantiated."
Although most investigations involving SRS are confidential, Ponce said the Herrman's decision to speak openly about previous cases with The Wichita Eagle allowed her to release more information.
Since the news of Adam's disappearance several weeks ago, Ponce says the agency is now involved in a full-scale review and investigation of both Adam's and the Herrman's history with SRS. Ponce says that includes a review of how the Herrman's were able to continue receiving state subsidies for Adam's adoption years after he vanished.
Ponce says SRS is also looking into whether there were signs Adam was an unhappy or troubled boy who would have reason to leave.
"At this point, I don't have any information that would support that," she said.
In 1997, there was another report of potential abuse in the Herrman household. An employee at Pleasantview Elementary, where Adam attended school for a time, contacted police with concerns.
Derby police investigated the complaint, only to determine bruises on Adam were the result of sporting activities with his siblings. The case was listed as a "Miscellaneous Report," meaning no crime was suspected.
In a separate case, Derby police confirm Adam Herrman did run away from home on at least one occasion. However, he returned on his own two hours later.
These reports are now but a small part of a very large investigation headed by the Butler County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Craig Murphy says his focus now is on finding Adam, whom he hopes may still be alive somewhere. He also says the Herrman's are very much under investigation, and could face serious charges depending on what the search reveals.
Murphy said earlier this week, however, that he would not step foot into a courtroom until he had "concrete answers."
In the meantime, Murphy says tips in the case are pouring in from all over Kansas and beyond. Anybody who believes they have information that could help investigators should call the Butler County Sheriff's Office at (316) 322-4254 or (316) 322-4398, ext. 8.