Crime & Courts

Dad of missing Lucas charged with hitting stepmom's child in days before boy vanished

A billboard near downtown Wichita asked for help in locating 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez.  His body was found under a rural bridge in Harvey County in  May.
A billboard near downtown Wichita asked for help in locating 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez. His body was found under a rural bridge in Harvey County in May. File/The Wichita Eagle

On Feb. 17, Emily Glass reported her 5-year-old stepson — Lucas Hernandez — missing. Since then, Glass has been accused of targeting Lucas because of anger toward his father.

Twelve days before Lucas disappeared, his father “smacked” Glass’ 6-year-old son from a previous relationship hard enough to leave a hand print on his chest, according to allegations in a court document previously reported by The Eagle.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Lucas’ father, Jonathan Hernandez, with misdemeanor battery for the Feb. 5 incident. Although the charge identifies the alleged victim only by initials, they match those of Glass’ 6-year-old son. And the date of the alleged battery in the charge filed on Wednesday also matches the date in a Wichita police report about a child abuse case involving a 6-year-old boy.

The court document — which led to Glass losing custody of her 1-year-old daughter after her stepson disappeared while in her care — said she had difficulty controlling her anger and was thought to be lashing out at Lucas because of her anger with the boy's father. Because of his job, Hernandez was away from his son for weeks at a time.

A school nurse documented Lucas' bruises about three weeks before he disappeared. Then the pre-kindergartner had a prolonged absence from school.

Lucas has been missing for almost three months now. He had bruises most often after Glass and his father fought, the state's child protection agency was told, according to the court document.

In confirming the battery charge against Lucas’ father, District Attorney Marc Bennett noted that the charge against Hernandez "resulted from a separate investigation and does not involve the disappearance of Lucas Hernandez."

Hernandez, 34, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Records show that he was booked into jail shortly before noon Wednesday on the charge. His bond was $2,500.

The DA’s Office said Hernandez made a first appearance in court Wednesday morning. His trial before a judge is scheduled for May 23.

The document detailing Glass’ troubled past included information about her two elementary-school-age sons from a previous relationship who visit her from time to time.

On Feb. 5 — the date of the alleged battery for which Hernandez is now charged, police and the Kansas Department for Children and Families received a report alleging that Hernandez “smacked” and pushed one of Glass’ two sons during a visit because the boy kept spraying air freshener, the court document said.

Glass saw what happened, and Hernandez cursed at her, the document said.

The injury left a hand print on the boy’s chest, the father of Glass’ son reported. DCF assigned a social worker to the case, and the Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit also investigated. According to the court document, filed Feb. 23, the investigation was ongoing.

On Feb. 17, Glass reported Lucas missing from their home on South Edgemoor. Four days after she called Wichita police, they arrested her on suspicion of endangering Lucas and her 1-year-old daughter. Prosecutors charged her only with endangering the girl. Glass, 26, has remained in jail on a $50,000 bond.

Police, the FBI and law enforcement and volunteers have found no trace of Lucas. Police have said they don’t think the boy was kidnapped or just walked away from the house where the family had just moved. Glass stayed home with Lucas and her daughter while Hernandez worked out of state for weeks at a time.