Crime & Courts

For 3-year-old Evan, proof never came in time

Vigil for 3-year-old Evan Brewer

People gathered on South Vine in front of the house where 3-year-old Evan Brewer’s body was found in a concrete structure last week.
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People gathered on South Vine in front of the house where 3-year-old Evan Brewer’s body was found in a concrete structure last week.

In an effort to have authorities check on Carlo Brewer’s 3-year-old son, Brewer’s attorney asked judges and police a question.

What would it take to get a court order letting investigators enter the Wichita rental home where the boy lived with his mother and her boyfriend to make sure he was OK?

Police told the attorney that authorities would need to see Evan or his mother at the home. Proof that they were there.

“And I have to admit: That sounded reasonable,” said Shayla Johnston, Carlo Brewer’s attorney and cousin.

But proof never came in time.

On Sept. 2, Wichita police discovered Evan’s remains encased in concrete at the same rental home on South Vine. His mother and her boyfriend remain in jail on bonds of $25,000 for charges not directly tied to his death, which remains under investigation. Police have not said how the 3-year-old died. Evan is a grandson of former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, who has taken a break from his gubernatorial campaign because of the child’s death.

According to Johnston, the only judge responsive to their efforts to determine whether Evan was safe was a temporary judge – former Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston.

On July 6, Johnston, Carlo Brewer and an officer with the Exploited and Missing Child Unit went to Foulston, who was working that day as a pro tem judge, serving at least twice a month on protection-from-abuse and protection-from-stalking cases.

As Johnston recalled the conversation, Foulston looked at the Exploited and Missing Child Unit investigator, Kent Bauman, and they talked about a search warrant to get into the house. “If you can get a prosecutor to draw it up, I will sign it,” Foulston said, and left her phone number with Bauman.

In interviews this week, Johnston and her uncle, Carl Brewer, both praised the efforts of Bauman. He helped Carlo Brewer through the court process and was at every protection-from-abuse hearing, Johnston said.

As the county’s longtime chief prosecutor, Foulston helped supervise criminal cases against people accused of harming children. As an assistant DA, she started a crimes-against-children unit in 1977.

For the Brewer family, tension and concern over Evan mounted.

Beginning in March, after multiple reports to the state that Evan could be neglected or abused, police and state child protective workers made repeated attempts to contact his mother, Miranda Miller, 36.

They knocked on her doors and windows. If Miller was there, she didn’t come to the door.

On Facebook and in text messages, “She was flaunting the fact that she was evading the system,” Johnston said Friday.

On May 7, Carlo Brewer heard from a friend that Miller was planning a move to Texas with his son. Later that same month, Carlo Brewer obtained a temporary order for custody of his son, according to a detailed timeline compiled by Johnston.

In early July – sometime after July 4 – a neighbor saw Evan in front of the rental home with Stephen Bodine, the 40-year-old live-in boyfriend, the neighbor told The Eagle.

On July 6, around the time the neighbor saw Evan with Bodine, Foulston took testimony from Carlo Brewer. Johnston provided Foulston the timeline of Carlo Brewer’s efforts to make sure his son was safe.

Foulston said Friday that she recalled that Miller may have taken her son out of state, that Miller couldn’t be found and was avoiding authorities. So Foulston ordered that Carlo Brewer be given sole custody on July 6.

Foulston remembered talking to the Exploited and Missing Child Unit officer, Bauman, about what it would take to get an order to get into the rental home.

But the problem was lack of proof that the mother and child were at the home, Foulston said.

Police said the boy’s remains were found Saturday in a suspicious concrete structure at the home after the landlord noticed an odor.

Miller was arrested in the 1200 block of South Emporia on Aug. 30 and has been charged with aggravated interference with parental custody. Bodine was arrested at the rental home and has been charged with aggravated assault with a hatchet and criminal damage to property for an alleged attack on Carlo Brewer outside the rental home on Aug. 11.

Brewer family members and supporters protested on multiple nights outside the home in August, with signs, and voicing their concern about Evan.

“It makes me ill,” Foulston said Friday – to think that the child was seen at the home around the time she signed the custody order in favor of his father.

“I did what I believe was legally correct.”

“I don’t fault law enforcement” because they were out by the rental home looking for the boy and his mother, she said.

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