The Adam Herrman Mystery
Cindy Adams, Crime Examiner
Adam Herrman (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) The fact that Casey Anthony waited one month to report her daughter Caylee missing shocked the world, however, the time that passed before Adam Herrman's foster parents admitted he was missing is unfathomable--10 years.
Adam was born Irvin Goeninger III on June 8, 1987. Due to suspected abuse in his biological family, Adam and his siblings were removed from the home and taken in as a foster child by Doug and Valerie Herrman, who adopted him in 1993. He is given the name Adam Joseph Herrman. Adam's two younger siblings were also adopted by the Herrman family.
The Herrmans had their foster care license removed in 1990 or 1991 for unknown reasons after a thorough investigation.
Allegations of Abuse
By 1996, Adam was enrolled in school as a fourth-grade school in the Derby school district. Later that year, local police investigate a report that Adam has been abused. The police report indicates Adam was a child in need of care and counseling through Kansas' Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). The investigation into the matter concluded that the allegations of child abuse were unsubstantiated.
SRS confirms that Adam had spent two days in county care after Valerie Herrman had spanked him with a belt, which left bruises. Police were called by a psychological counselor; however, the Herrmans were simply told they could not discipline Adam with a belt.
Two years later in 1998, suspected abuse was again reported to the Derby police from Adam's school. The official report indicates Adam may have been abused at his home on Christmas day in 1997. The investigation found no crime had occurred because Adams bruises were explained away by the Herrmans as injuries from playing sports with siblings.
In Jan. 1998, Adam ran way, but returned to his home two hours later. According to Valerie Herrman, Adam ran away about eight times to get attention, but would return within two hours.
The next month, the Herrmans told the school district they were moving and withdrew Adam from school while in the fifth grade. The family moved to a trailer part, where Valerie Herrman acted as park manager.
According to district records, Adam never enrolled in school in this new location. Valerie Herrman claims he was home-schooled because he had psychological problems and disliked traditional schooling, although his younger siblings attended public school.
In the first week of May 1999 Adam disappears, never to be heard from again. According to the Herrmans, 11-year-old Adam ran away after Valerie Herrman spanked him with a belt. She claims she and her husband searched for him, but feared reporting him missing because the spanking may lead to all of the children being removed from the home.
The Mystery Unfolds
It was not until Thanksgiving 2008 that Crystal, the Herrman's biological daughter called SRS hoping she could get some information about Adam.
Alarmingly, SRS records indicate Adam was with the Herrmans until 2005. This contradicted what the Herrmans had told Crystal and the family--that Adam had been returned to state custody in 1999.
Investigators immediately searched the Herrman's home taking photographs of Adam, a computer, psychological and medical reports regarding Adam, along with other relevant evidence.
According to Warner Eisenbise, the Herrman's attorney, the couple feels guilty for not reporting Adam missing a decade ago.
During a press conference on Jan. 5, 2009, the Butler County Sheriff's department indicated that certain evidence has been found in the case; however, they are not yet revealing it. The authorities are treating the investigation of Adam's disappearance as a death, although he may still be alive.
Valerie Herrman's relatives have publicly accused her of abusing Adam by keeping him chained to a bathroom faucet. She denied this allegation, yet claimed Adam was a difficult child.
Despite not reporting him missing for 10 years Doug and Valerie Herrman claim to love and miss Adam. They claim Adam was not chained to a faucet, but was locked in the bathroom at the advice of a psychiatrist after Adam threatened to harm the family.
Allegations of Fraud
Although Adam was gone, the Herrmans continued to accept $700 a month adoption subsidy payments from the state until Adam was to have turned 18 in 2005, which was six years after he went missing.
These subsidies are designed to help families who adopt children who may be otherwise difficult to place due to their specific medical, social, and emotional needs or when a family adopts a number of children who are siblings.
Herrmans are Suspects in Adam's Disappearance
Authorities continue to search for Adam and on Jan. 14 spent several hours digging in the location where one of the Herrman’s mobile homes had once sat in a Towanda mobile home lot. After six hours, nothing was found.
On Jan. 16 County Attorney Jan Satterfield indicated the Herrmans are suspects in Adam’s disappearance and that the investigation could result in murder and child abuse charges. In addition, the authorities made reference to receiving an interesting tip, but would not disclose the nature of the information.
On Saturday, officials began another search near the Whitewater River.
If alive, Adam Herrman is currently 21 years old.
Please call 1-800-THE-LOST if you have any information regarding Adam Herrman’s case.