Crime & Courts

Private investigator had one advantage police lacked in finding Lucas' body

Hours after Emily Glass led a private investigator to the body of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez and after the investigator had been interviewed by detectives Thursday, he shared something with Sheila Medlam.

It was new information at the heart of the disappearance of the Wichita boy, who was Glass' stepson.

And it was this: Glass told the private investigator “that she put Lucas to bed Friday night (Feb. 16), that when she woke up Saturday morning (Feb. 17), he was dead,” Medlam said Friday afternoon while her conversation with the private detective remained fresh in her mind. An autopsy was done Friday, but the cause of death has not been released.

Medlam of Colwich has been a leader of a group of volunteers who had already suspected that Lucas’ remains might be found in the area where the body was found on Thursday. The body lay under a small culvert bridge on a rural dirt road in southeast Harvey County.

On Friday morning, Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay said that Glass reportedly led the private investigator, David Marshburn of North Carolina, to the body. Lucas had been missing for more than three months from his south Wichita home.

Glass had told police that after she awoke from a nap that Saturday, Feb. 17, Lucas was missing, and she called police that evening to report it.

This week, late Thursday night, Wichita police arrested Glass and booked her into jail on suspicion of a new charge — interference with a law enforcement officer and obstruction.

On Friday, Medlam gave this account of how Marshburn came to Wichita from North Carolina earlier this week and helped solve a major piece of the mystery.

Marshburn told The Eagle on Friday that he took up the task after being contacted by a grandmother of Lucas’ father, Jonathan Hernandez. Hernandez was reportedly working out of state when his son disappeared.

Hernandez set up a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000 to hire Marshburn.

After Marshburn arrived in Wichita, Medlam met with him for about four hours early Thursday, sharing information that she and fellow searchers had gained about where Lucas might be.

Later Thursday morning, Medlam, Marshburn and his private investigative partner drove together through an area about 2 miles south of where the body was later found.

The volunteer searchers had previously identified that area as a probable location for his remains, based on information that she can’t disclose, Medlam said.

Marshburn told her he made a plan to put Glass in a truck and persuade her to tell where Lucas was.

His strategy, Medlam said, was to take her out in the truck and convey to her that people know where Lucas is and were “zeroing in on it.”

His plan was to “wear her down, and keep it fresh in her mind that the little boy that she claims to love was out there somewhere,” Medlam said.

Marshburn and his partner spent five and a half hours with Glass on Thursday, Medlam said. During that time, he told the volunteer searchers to stay away — so Glass wouldn’t be distracted by them.

Medlam recalled that Marshburn told her that he and Glass drove across the same bridge where Lucas would be found — about 30 times.

Glass seemed to have trouble recalling the precise spot, Medlam said Marshburn told her.

Eventually, Marshburn announced that he would stop at every bridge.

The first one he stopped at, he found the remains underneath.

For three months, police had been gathering information to find the missing boy.

Until last week, Glass had remained in jail, on a charge of endangering her 1-year-old daughter. She went free after a jury found her not guilty of endangering her daughter. Police had interviewed her four times before arresting her a few days after she reported Lucas’ disappearance.

Police and volunteers had scoured parks and scattered open spaces around Wichita.

But Marshburn had something new.

“He had one thing that nobody else had — which is Emily Glass in the passenger seat of his vehicle,” Medlam said.

And he had the right personality for the job, she said.

“He’s a very charming, funny, cocky, confident guy, and you feel a connection with him when you meet him.”

Marshburn told The Eagle, during a cellphone interview on his drive back to North Carolina, that people tell him “I can sell a woman with white gloves a ketchup sandwich.”

Within a few minutes, he said he had to end the interview because he was driving through mountains and losing phone reception.

He has described himself in news articles as a former professional poker player with a knack for reading people.

Even before Marshburn reached Wichita, Medlam said, he told her that he would find Lucas within 48 hours and Glass would tell him where Lucas was.

“Damned if he didn’t.”

Read Next

Read Next

Related stories from Wichita Eagle