Couple accused of welfare theft; son missing since '99
GROVE — A Kansas couple who live at Grand Lake and are "persons of interest" in the disappearance of their adopted son a decade ago have been charged with the theft of welfare payments, prosecutors said Thursday.
Doug and Valerie Herrman were charged Wednesday in Butler County (Kan.) District Court. They were released on $50,000 bond each and are scheduled to return to court July 14.
They are accused of accepting $52,800 in welfare payments they were not entitled to after their son Adam Herrman, 11, disappeared in 1999.
According to the charges, the couple falsely claimed the boy on their income taxes. They also continued to receive an adoption subsidy and failed to report to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services that the child was no longer living in their home, records show.
Doug Herrman, 55, and Valerie Herrman, 53, deny any wrongdoing, said Trevor Riddle, Doug Herrman's attorney.
Riddle would not comment on the disappearance.
Warner Eisenbise, Valerie Herrman's attorney, and Riddle released a statement saying that "the charges address what are essentially allegations of a technical financial offense. Consistent with the facts of this case, Douglas and Valerie Herrman intend to enter pleas of not guilty and vigorously seek dismissal of these charges."
Jan Satterfield, Butler County's chief prosecutor, said the couple are "persons of interest" in their son's disappearance
"There is no formal finding of court that Adam is dead," she said.
If Adam Herrman is alive, he would be 23 now.
The investigation into his disappearance is ongoing, Satterfield said. Prosecutors hope to have the investigation wrapped up by the end of the year, she said.
Satterfield would not comment on specifics of the investigation other than to say that "there are technical aspects of the case we are ironing out."
Adam Herrman was last seen at a mobile home park in Towanda, Kan., about 25 miles northeast of Wichita. He was reported missing by a relative in 2008.
Butler County authorities in 2009 conducted several searches of the mobile home park and areas near the Whitewater River