On Saturday, February 17, 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez seemingly disappeared without a trace from his Wichita home. The young boy was reportedly being tended by his stepmother, who claims to have put him down for a nap at around 3:00 p.m. After showering and taking a nap herself, his stepmother told law enforcement that she went into Lucas’ bedroom to check on him at approximately 6:00 p.m. only to find him gone and the back door of the family home open. She reportedly called police to report Lucas missing at approximately 6:15 p.m.
The Wichita Police Department began searching Lucas Hernandez’ neighborhood for the missing boy on Saturday evening, going door to door and even utilizing canine units to aid in their efforts. By Sunday, when Lucas had still not been recovered, the FBI joined local police efforts to solve the case. Over the long holiday weekend, searches for Lucas Hernandez began to expand further from his home. As of Tuesday afternoon, as many as 100 officers have searched the Hernandez home, the missing boy’s neighborhood, and three local parks. In addition to canine units, drones and horses have been involved in the search effort, but to no avail.
Now, ABC News reports that a relative of Lucas Hernandez suspected that the 5-year-old may have been the victim of abuse prior to his disappearance. According to Sally Rasmussen, Lucas’ great-aunt, she saw “marks” on her great-nephew in a photograph last May. She was so concerned that she says she reported her suspicions to Kansas Child Protective Services.
In November, when he and his father visited her in New Mexico, Rasmussen claims she was even more convinced that someone had intentionally hurt Lucas. Once again, Lucas Hernandez’ great-aunt says that she voiced her concerns to local child protective authorities, this time in New Mexico. Even so, Rasmussen claims that despite an interview and investigation, no steps were taken to remove her great-nephew from his home situation, reports KAKE.
“They investigated and had a forensic interview. I guess police didn’t think there was enough evidence.”
According to Lucas Hernandez’ great-aunt, she doesn’t believe that Lucas’ father is behind his son’s injuries, adding that Lucas’ dad was reportedly out of town when his son went missing on Saturday afternoon.
“He loves his son dearly!”
While Sally Rasmussen claims that she has suspected for months that her great-nephew may have been being abused, the Wichita Police Department is not confirming her claims of a previous report to Kansas Department for Children and Families. Citing an ongoing investigation, Officer Charley Davidson declined to provide information about potential abuse claims to the media at this time.
“We’re doing a thorough investigation. We don’t want to jeopardize an investigation, so I can’t go into any details as it’s still an active investigation.”
On Monday night, Lucas Hernandez’ father thanked investigators and local supporters participating in a prayer vigil for their help in the search for his son. He specifically mentioned that his community was “treating Lucas like the’s their child,” adding that he wants his son home.
“I think it’s good to see people in this community treating Lucas like he’s their child. This is a serious thing and we want him home.”
Police will not confirm or deny whether Lucas’ father and/or stepmother are being investigated in connection with the 5-year-old’s disappearance, and few public updates have taken place since he vanished Saturday afternoon. In the midst of all of the uncertainty, great-aunt Sally Rasmussen says she was concerned” from the moment she got the news that Lucas had disappeared.
“When I first found out he was missing, I was suspicious and worried.”
Police and FBI are asking for the public’s assistance to bring Lucas Hernandez home safely, and have stated that the most effective way to help in the case is to be alert and share Lucas’ missing child poster far and wide. Lucas Hernandez is 5-years-old, 60 pounds, is four feet high and has brown hair and eyes. He was born with a cleft palate and is known to have a speech impediment. When he was last seen, Lucas was wearing black pants, white socks and a grey shirt “with a bear on it.” Anyone with information about his disappearance or whereabouts is asked to call (316) 383-4661.