Childhood friend reports missing boy endured electric shocks, starvation, beatings

Date: 2011-03-11

By: Zach Thaxton and Carolyn Carver

El Paso County Sheriff's investigators are looking into pursuing a homicide investigation into a former Monument couple whose two adopted children haven't been seen since early last decade, according to an affidavit released Thursday afternoon in the case against Edward and Linda Bryant.

The affidavit provides a grim picture of the time leading up to the last known whereabouts of young Austin and Edward Bryant.

It alleges, in part, that Austin was locked in a trunk, starved, beaten, handcuffed, possibly even tased by his adoptive parents.

This week, investigators with the sheriff's office are searching the area surrounding the Bryant's former home west of Monument.

They utilized search dogs to sniff for any hints as to what may have happened to Austin and Edward Bryant.

Their adoptive parents, Edward and Linda Bryant, are accused of collecting welfare benefits for them since they were adopted in 2000.

Court papers allege they collected nearly $175,000 from the El Paso County Department of Human Services during the period they're accused of fraud and theft.

Papers also reveal Edward and Austin were classified by DHS as children that had special needs and because of that the adopted parents were eligible to receive money every month for the children even after adoption.

The classification does require them to report to DHS once a month, which records indicate they did even though the couple moved from Monument to Texas in 2005.

Sheriff Terry Maketa says there's virtually nothing to indicate the young brothers went with them.

"As each day passes, the faith of finding them alive diminishes," he says.

When questioned by investigators, both adoptive parents said that Edward and Austin had run away in 2003, but gave inconsistent accounts of exactly when.

Curiously, last October, Linda Bryant provided documentation stating that Edward Bryant was scheduled to graduate in June of this year, it's the only documentation pertaining to either child since 2003.

The last known verifiable time that Austin was alive was from his dis-enrollment paperwork from Monument Academy to be home schooled on October 28, 2003.

When confronted by police, Linda Bryant said the boys ran away and "she hoped that a family had found them and taken them in," even though she never looked for them or called police.

Then she told police, "she had to falsify records and take the money so that nobody would question the whereabouts of the children," according to the arrest affidavit.

Then she told police she left Southern Colorado and moved to Texas for a "fresh start".

The Bryant's have seven other adopted children who are now in the custody of Texas child welfare officials.

One is the third biological brother to the missing Austin and Edward Bryant.

According to the court documents, "he confirmed that he can not remember the last time he saw his brothers alive and he wished he could see them."

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