Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Butler County Sheriff Craig Muphy tells KAKE News they will expand their search for the missing boy on Saturday. Using dogs, they will search along the Whitewater River. They want to make sure they don't leave any ground uncovered.
The Sheriff's Department is also writing up a search warrant for a residence. The Sheriff won't say where.
And as of Tuesday morning, dozens of people have either phoned in or emailed tips to the department.
It's been ten years since anybody saw or heard from Adam Herrman, 11-years-old when he vanished in 1999 from his adopted home in Towanda.
Now, investigators hope taking the case to the public airwaves, including CNN, will help lead them to answers.
Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy said Monday morning his office is now investigating Herrman's disappearance as a death, but that no evidence exists to prove he is not living.
"We don't know what happened to him after 1999," Murphy said. By classifying the case as a death, Murphy says it frees up more resources to look for Herrman.
Murphy would not discuss evidence found at the former home-site in Towanda, except that it did not include any human remains.
"He could very well still be alive, or it could be he's deceased," Murphy said. "We just don't know yet."
The case began to unfold three weeks ago, after a caller tipped off the Wichita Police Department's Exploited and Missing Children's Unit that Adam Herrman hadn't been seen in ten years.
Murphy says the adopted parents never reported his disappearance to law enforcement.
Doug and Valerie Herrman now reside in Derby, and have long said Adam ran away. Their attorney, Warner Eisenbise, said Monday the couple feels terrible about the decision not to report their adopted son missing, but that it wasn't the first time he'd left home.
Eisenbise said Adam Herrman, born Irvin Groeninger III, knew his biological family. His adopted parents believed he left to seek them out. Eisenbise said the Herrmans have nothing to do with Adam's current whereabouts.
Murphy says an exhaustive check of Adam's bio-historical record shows no activity since 1999.
He said the Herrmans are considered "persons of interest," but are not suspects and that no evidence has yet been found suggesting they are responsible for Adam's disappearance.
"If we were going into a courtroom with charges against somebody, and Adam just happened to show up, what kind of job have we done?" asked Murphy.
He said it's possible the Herrmans could face charges for failing to report Adam as missing, but that after ten years, the state's statute of limitations could come into play.
"It'll be up to prosecutors," Murphy said.
Meantime, one of Adam's biological sisters is holding out hope he'll be found.
"I just need closure," said Tiffany Broadfoot.
Broadfoot says she tried to keep in touch with her brother after he was put into foster care and eventually adopted. She says the last time she heard from him was when she was nine and Adam sent her a Christmas card.
On Monday morning, investigators came to Broadfoot's home to collect a DNA sample for comparison in the event Adam is found.
"It kind of gives me the hope that now... they'll work harder to find him," she said.
Although investigators have ten years of catching up in the case, Sheriff Murphy says he's confident answers will begin to surface.
"One thing I've learned in my career is not all evidence disappears," he said Monday. "It's just up to us to dig it out."
Murphy asks anybody with any information in the disappearance of Adam Herrman to call Butler County investigators (316) 322-4254, or toll-free at (800) 794-0190.
Sheriff Murphy has provided a picture of Adam aged to 21 years, which can be viewed below.
Update: 10:00am Monday
Butler County authorities are holding a news conference on the search for Adam Herrman. The boy has been missing since 1999.
Sheriff Craig Murphy said authorities don't know what happened to Adam Herrman after 1999. Authorities are launching a nationwide search. He plans to talk with CNN about national coverage of the search for Herrman.
Murphy asked for anyone who may have seen something unusual in the Towanda area during the time Herrman went missing to call authorities.
Murphy said investigators found an answer when they searched a mobile home lot last week, however, he would not say what the found.
Murphy said investigators are treating this as a missing person case. He asked that if Adam Herrman is still alive, that he call authorities immediately.
The sheriff believes Herrman was being home schooled at the time of his disappearance.
Tiffany Broadfoot and Irvin Groeninger II said the news that Adam Herrman, who's birth name is Irvin Groeninger III, was reported missing after nearly a decade has left them confused, devastated and wanting answers.
"I have a lot of questions and very few answers," said Tiffany Broadfoot, Adam's biological sister.
Just weeks ago, Broadfoot's biological father in Indiana called with news she never expected to hear. He told her that her younger brother, who was adopted by a different family years earlier, hadn't been seen in nearly a decade.
"My dad went on to say he's been missing since '99 and it was just reported around December 5th," said Broadfoot.
Broadfoot and her brother Adam, along with their other siblings, were placed in foster care after their parents' divorce. Eventually, they were adopted by different families. Broadfoot said she tried to keep in touch with Adam but his adoptive family told her they didn't want Adam to know he was adopted and asked that she not contact him. She never imagined he might be missing.
"How did anybody not know he was missing?" she wonders. "Why didn't his friends say something? Why didn't the schools say something?"
Last week, investigators began searching the Pine Ridge mobile home park in Towanda where Adam's adoptive family lived and where he was last seen. Officials have now asked Broadfoot, her father and mother Gerri George in Colorado, for DNA samples.
"When I was first told he was missing, I was figuring he was 20 or 21 years-old... an adult. I wouldn't figure that he'd be missing, then they told me he was missing for 9 years and I didn't know what to think," said Irvin Groeninger II, Adam's biological father.
Investigators said last week that they did find one answer to their questions in the mobile home park, but Sheriff Craig Murphy won't elaborate.
"I cry a lot. It's very upsetting," said Broadfoot.
Broadfoot said her dream of having her brothers and sisters together again is crashing around her and now she and her family just want answers.
"Whatever happens, just that justice gets served," said Groeninger.
"I need to know what happened," said Broadfoot.
Butler county officials are expected to hold a press conference Monday morning at 10:00. Investigators have yet to officially release the names of Adam's adoptive parents or any pictures of Adam.