Police have found a body that is believed to be that of missing 5-year-old Wichita boy Lucas Hernandez in southeast Harvey County, a source confirmed Thursday evening.
Later Thursday, at 10:34 p.m., Emily Glass — the stepmother who reported Lucas missing more than three months ago — was booked into jail on suspicion of interfering with a law enforcement officer and obstruction.
Robin Taylor, Lucas’ maternal grandmother, said she was told unofficially Thursday night that her grandson’s body had been found in Harvey County, possibly near 96th Street and Oliver Road. She said her daughter, Lucas’ mother, received word of the development from news alerts on her phone.
Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay told the media that a searcher found a body under a bridge on a gravel road on 96th Street. That person contacted Wichita police, who contacted Harvey County sheriff's deputies.
The body was what appears to be that of a small human.
In a text Thursday night, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett — asked if he could comment — said, “We’ll be able to speak more definitively after the autopsy tomorrow.”
Gay said the body was under a bridge in such a way that it would not have been visible from the street.
There is pasture and a wheat field along one side of the road. Tall grass and weeds are in the ditches, and the area around the bridge is wooded, with a little water in a creek, the sheriff said. The closest house is about a quarter of a mile from the bridge.
Sheila Medlam, a Colwich woman who has helped lead volunteer searches for Lucas, said she got a text message from North Carolina private investigator David Marshburn telling her: “We found him at 5:01.”
Medlam then talked to Marshburn by phone and in person at the scene. Medlam said the private investigator told her he had been spending Thursday with Glass.
Medlam, who went to the scene of where the remains were found, said they were in shallow water near a small culvert bridge near a tree row along a dirt or gravel road.
Medlam said she saw a woman at the scene being driven away in a Wichita police SUV and said that Marshburn told her that he and Glass were to be questioned by investigators.
As of 10:30 p.m. Thursday, she said, about 25 volunteer searchers remained where the body was found — "standing vigil for him," Lucas.
Twenty to 30 officers were still working there, using spotlights to illuminate the area where the remains were found.
The contingent included chaplains and a coroner's van, Medlam said.
Medlam said she and volunteers had searched near that area over the past four weeks.
Misty Cox, leader of another search entity called Kansas Search Investigation, said she and her members also scoured the area near where the body was found, about six weeks ago.
“I’m glad that he has been recovered and that his family can finally get closure,” Cox said.
Still, Cox said, “It’s not over. This is the first part of it.”
Wichita police spokesman Officer Charley Davidson declined to comment initially Thursday evening. Davidson said that he was on his way somewhere, but declined to elaborate.
At the scene, Davidson said WPD will not have an update Thursday night. His response to questions, including whether Emily Glass was at the scene Thursday, was "I'm not going to go into detail tonight."
The search moved to Harvey County on Thursday and included officers from multiple departments.
A source said that a private investigator hired by the family was able to determine the location based on information he received from Glass.
Among the people gathered at a candlelight vigil Thursday night at the south Wichita house where Lucas was reported missing, several friends of the 5-year-old’s family clustered on the front sidewalk.
One of them, Dustie McElwain, said she spoke with Lucas’ father, Jonathan Hernandez, who had a message: “Jonathan said thanks to all searchers and everybody” who has supported the family and cared about Lucas.
Speaking of the boy’s father, McElwain said, “He’s devastated as well. … Just continue to pray for the family because they lost somebody they love.”
Police have said that Glass reported Lucas missing from their home in the 600 block of South Edgemoor Street around 6 p.m. Feb. 17, a Saturday. Glass, 27, told police that she awoke from a nap to discover him missing from the home. They had recently moved into the corner rental home. His father, Jonathan Hernandez, was away.
Police have said that they found no evidence of an abduction and that they don’t think Lucas, a prekindergarten student, just walked away.
Four days after Glass reported him missing, police announced that they arrested her on suspicion of endangering Lucas and her 1-year-old daughter, but prosecutors charged her only with endangering the girl. Last week, a jury found Glass not guilty of the misdemeanor charge involving the girl.