Long-missing boy is subject of search

Date: 2009-01-03
Source: Wichita Eagle

By TIM POTTER
The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA | His name is Adam.

He came to his foster parents when he was about 2, according to a relative, and a few years later that family adopted him.

And then, nearly 10 years ago, the boy disappeared when he was 11 or 12, while the adoptive family lived at a mobile home park in Towanda, Kan.

After receiving a tip, Butler County authorities searched part of the mobile home park last week.

Sheriff Craig Murphy has not confirmed the boy’s name but said no one ever reported him missing and investigators could find no evidence that the boy is alive.

A news conference is scheduled for Monday morning.

On Saturday, an attorney for Adam’s adoptive parents said that he ran away about nine years ago, 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.

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

“They assumed that he was somewhere — either a homeless person or back with members of his family,” Eisenbise said. “They assumed that he was OK.”

Also Saturday, the boy’s biological parents and sister said detectives had asked them for DNA samples, to be compared with any evidence investigators find of him.

Adam was named Irvin Groeninger III when he was born in Wichita in June 1987.

His biological parents, who have since 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, who now lives in Indiana.

Adam’s biological mother, Gerri George, said her son 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.

Adam’s older biological sister, Tiffany Broadfoot, now 22 and living in Wichita, lived for a time with Adam’s adoptive family before being adopted by someone else.

Broadfoot remembers Adam having dark, almost curly hair and “this cute, really round face.” She last saw him at a birthday party when he was 5 or 6.

Over the years, she said, she called the adoptive mother to ask how he was doing.

At first, Broadfoot said, the adoptive mother said Adam was OK. But about three years ago, she said, the woman asked her not to call again because she didn’t want Adam and two younger siblings to know they were adopted.

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

Then last month, she said, her biological father called 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.

“He (the detective) said he’s been missing nine years, and that just blew my mind,” Groeninger said.

A 2002 bankruptcy petition filed by Adam’s adoptive parents lists him as a son, age 14 — two to three years after authorities say he disappeared.

Court records show that as late as 2003, his adoptive parents listed him in their divorce case.

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