Crime & Courts

Three months after report of missing 5-year-old, police call search for Lucas 'very challenging'

Lucas Hernandez, 5.
Lucas Hernandez, 5. Courtesy of the Wichita Police Department

A Wichita police captain said Thursday that the search for 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez has been "very challenging" and that the department is disappointed the boy hasn't turned up yet. It's been three months since the pre-kindergartner was reported missing.

“Of course we’re disappointed that we haven’t found Lucas," Capt. Brent Allred told reporters during a Thursday morning news briefing at Wichita City Hall. "I know a lot of other people are, too. That's why we encourage anyone out there to continue to look, continue to search, continue to let us know when they have information."

"We’ll follow up on any lead, information that they provide us. We just don’t have any information to follow up on right now," he said.

The comments came a day after a jury acquitted Lucas' stepmother, Emily Glass, of one count of child endangerment for driving her 1-year-old daughter to Olive Garden on Feb. 16 while she was allegedly high on marijuana.

That case didn't center on Lucas' disappearance by design — it only addressed the singular question of whether the young girl was at risk that day.

But there was testimony about Glass' telling police she left Lucas home alone during the trip to the restaurant.

The next day — Feb. 17 — she called police and reported him missing from his bedroom.

Police have previously said there is no evidence the boy walked away on his own from the South Edgemoor rental home where he lived, or that he was abducted.

After Glass' acquittal Wednesday morning, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett called her a "person of interest" and a witness in Lucas' disappearance.

The boy's whereabouts remain a mystery.

Allred said Thursday the search for Lucas continues. Most searches are led by volunteers now — in part because police resources have to be spread to other cases, too.

"There are other things that are going on that we have to take care of," Allred said.

But the department still chases leads as they come in, he said.

Tips that were plentiful in the days after Lucas' disappearance came to light have dropped off to a few a week. And, Allred said, they "are not really providing us with any locations to search."

"We, like everybody else, want to find Lucas," Allred said. "We want to do what we can as a department and as a community to bring closure to this case.

"I know it's difficult. We have a great community, with great people that are out there every day looking for him. And we continue to encourage that ... I can assure you that any information we get is valuable."

Police are asking anyone with information about Lucas' disappearance or who finds evidence that might point to his whereabouts to call the department at 316-268-4181 or to dial 911.

Crime Stoppers is also taking tips at 316-267-2111 and at www.wichitasedgwickcountycrimestoppers.com.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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Emily Glass was found not guilt of child endangerment in case involving her one-year-old daughter. District attorney Marc Bennett says she remains the primary witness in the case of her missing stepson, Lucas Hernandez.

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