Special Reports

Hearing set on records in missing boy case

A court hearing in El Dorado this morning will deal with the question of whether media can receive state records about Adam Herrman, whose disappearance at age 11 in 1999 has been the focus of a homicide investigation.

The Eagle; KWCH, Channel 12; and the Associated Press have each requested records about Adam from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. The records would include any allegations of him being abused.

SRS was preparing to release records in January, but Butler County Attorney Jan Satterfield obtained a temporary restraining order blocking the release.

Today's hearing - at 9 a.m. in Butler County District Court before Judge Michael Ward - could determine whether that order will continue.

Satterfield contended that public disclosure would reveal witnesses and interfere with the investigation into Adam's disappearance, discovered by authorities late last year.

Several health providers also have objected to disclosing the records, arguing it would violate patient privacy law.

The Eagle has sought SRS records on Adam under an exception in the law that allows the information to be disclosed when a child dies or nearly dies and it is related to abuse or neglect.

Satterfield has said that an investigation into Adam's disappearance could lead to murder charges, with the underlying allegation being child abuse.

No human remains have been found during several searches by law enforcement over the past few months.

Satterfield has said that Adam's adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, are suspects. The Herrmans and their lawyers say they are innocent.

SRS has confirmed that a few years before Adam disappeared, he spent two days at the Wichita Children's Home, then was returned home. Late last year, Adam's adoptive sister took her concerns about him to authorities, leading to the discovery that he had been missing for nearly 10 years.