EL DORADO — A $50,000 cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the disappearance of a Towanda boy in 1999, Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet announced Friday.
By Amy Renee Leiker
The Wichita Eagle
The reward is being posted by an anonymous donor who “would like to see some closure for the family” of Adam Joseph Herrman, Herzet said at a news conference in El Dorado.
Adam was 11 when he went missing, but authorities didn’t learn he had vanished until late 2008, when his older, adoptive sister shared concerns about him with law enforcement.
The boy’s adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, did not report him missing. They later were declared suspects in the case by the county’s chief prosecutor, Jan Satterfield, who said the investigation could result in first-degree felony murder charges.
As of Friday, though, Adam’s whereabouts remain unknown to authorities. The last tip, Herzet said, came in months ago.
Adam would be 26 now.
“We’ve not had any contact with anyone who’s called and said, ‘Hey I’m Adam Joseph Herrman. I want to come talk to you,’” Herzet said. “It’s an open case here in Butler County, and we’re still trying to get to where we need to be to on getting some closure – finding him, his whereabouts, his remains, whatever it may be.”
He called the case “very frustrating.”
“We’re hoping with a reward, this might make somebody call.”
Anyone with information about Adam Herrman is asked to call the Butler County Sheriff’s Office at 316-322-4257 or 866-484-5924 or El Dorado Crime Stoppers at 316-321-1080.
Tipsters also can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s hotline at 800-THE-LOST (843-5678).
Doug and Valerie Herrman have not faced charges connected to Adam’s disappearance. They claim he ran away from the family’s Towanda trailer home after Valerie spanked him one night.
The couple have said they did not report him missing out of fear they would lose custody of their other children.
Relatives have said that the Herrmans told family that Adam, a home-schooled child, had been returned to state custody.
After learning of the disappearance, authorities dug for Adam’s body in the Towanda mobile home park where he’d lived but turned up nothing. A search of nearby wooded areas also yielded no clues.
In 2011, Doug and Valerie Herrman pleaded guilty to felony theft for continuing to accept a state subsidy to help them care for their adoptive son after he vanished. They were ordered to pay $15,488 in restitution — the amount they pleaded guilty to wrongly accepting — and a fine of $2,500 each.
The couple received the $700 monthly subsidy until Adam’s 18th birthday, in 2005.
Butler County District Judge David A. Ricke also ordered Doug Herrman to serve nine months in prison for the theft and gave Valerie Herrman a seven-month prison term.
Herzet, who was the lead investigator on the case before becoming sheriff that year, said at the time that he was “focused on working this case as a homicide.”
“The Herrmans still are, in my eyes, suspects,” he said in 2011, “and we’re going to continue to work the case as the leads come in, and I hope we can resolve the case in the very near future and arrests are made.”
On Friday, he echoed similar resolve.
“A lot of my detectives have pictures of Adam hanging in their office. He’s not going to go away, and the case isn’t going to go away.
“ ... Every time we get a lead or something comes up, one of the detectives assigned to the case jumps right on it, and we follow it through to the very end.”
Contributing: Tim Potter of The Eagle.