Crime & Courts

Stepmom of missing 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez loses custody of her daughter

Emily Glass, stepmother of missing 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, during an earlier court hearing.
Emily Glass, stepmother of missing 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, during an earlier court hearing. Wichita Eagle

The stepmother and caregiver of a 5-year-old Wichita boy missing for more than two months lost custody of her 1-year-old daughter on Friday.

Sedgwick County Juvenile Court Judge Kevin Smith found that Emily Glass’ daughter is, under state law, a “child in need of care.” The designation puts the girl in the custody of the secretary for the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The agency will decide where the child will live. The girl had already been placed in police protective custody.

Police have said that Glass is the stepmother of Lucas Hernandez and that she reported him missing from their south Wichita home on Feb. 17.

At a hearing Friday morning, neither Glass and nor Lucas' father, Jonathan Hernandez, contested a petition filed by a prosecutor laying out a factual basis for why the 1-year-old girl should be declared a child in need of care by the state.

During the hearing, Glass, wearing an orange jail shirt and pants, dabbed at tears with a tissue. She waived her right to a hearing on whether her daughter should be found a child in need of care. Hernandez, who is listed in the petition as the "alleged father" of the girl, appeared to look straight at the judge rather than at Glass. Glass and Hernandez, who have lived together in recent years, each had their own attorney; a lawyer sat between them. Both said "yes" when asked if they understood their rights. Neither spoke at length during the brief public portion of the hearing.

After Smith ruled that the 1-year-old girl is a child in need of care, he said the rest of the court proceedings with Glass and Hernandez present were closed to an Eagle reporter who was allowed to cover the child-in-need-of-care portion.

Wichita police have said they don’t think that Lucas was abducted or walked away from his home on South Edgemoor, where the family had just moved. Glass stayed home with the two children while Lucas' father worked out of state for weeks at a time. At the time Lucas was reported missing, his biological mother did not live in the Wichita area. Police and volunteer search crews have repeatedly combed Wichita parks and found no sign of Lucas.

On Feb. 21 — four days after Glass reported Lucas missing — police arrested her on suspicion of endangering Lucas and her 1-year-old daughter.

Two days later, a prosecutor filed the child-in-need-of-care petition for Glass’ daughter, saying that Glass had failed to provide a “safe and stable living environment,” had admitted to smoking marijuana and then driving with the girl, had left Lucas alone at home, had a history of violence with Jonathan Hernandez, had poor judgment and substance abuse issues and was in jail.

On Feb. 26, prosecutors charged Glass with endangering her daughter. She has remained in jail under a $50,000 bond on the misdemeanor charge since her arrest. A judge denied her request to lower her bond so she could get out of jail.

The child-in-need-of-care petition contended that Hernandez was not an appropriate placement for the child either.

At the time the document was filed, it said, DCF had yet to find relatives who would be an appropriate placement for the girl. It said an "emergency exists which threatens the safety of the child."

Before Friday's hearing, the girl had already been placed in police protective custody and taken to the Wichita Children's Home.

The child-in-need-of-care petition for Glass’ daughter said that Glass was thought to be targeting Lucas because of her anger with the boy's father, Hernandez. Lucas, a pre-kindergartner, had bruises most often after Glass and the father fought, the state's child protection agency was told, according to the petition.

The day before Lucas was reported missing, a witness saw a young boy standing at the front door of the home, the petition said. Glass later admitted to leaving 5-year-old Lucas home alone that day while she took her daughter to eat at a restaurant.

Emily Glass, stepmother of missing 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez, was in court Wednesday afternoon requesting her bond be lowered for the child endangerment of her 1 year old daughter.