In a troubling turn of events, the stepmother of missing Wichita 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez has been charged with two counts of child endangerment. As KWCH 12 reports, 26-year-old Emily Glass was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail at 3:30 p.m. on February 21. In an afternoon news conference, Wichita police declined to comment on the specifics of the child endangerment charges aside from confirming that they involve two children: Lucas and a 1-year-old, presumably the missing child’s younger sibling, who was reportedly at home when Lucas vanished.
As CBS News reports, the search for Lucas Hernandez has now become a criminal investigation. The 5-year-old was reported missing at approximately 6:00 p.m. last Saturday evening. According to his stepmother, she put the boy down for a nap at 3:00 p.m. before taking a shower and nap herself, along with Lucas’ younger sibling. She claims that when she awoke, Lucas was gone and their home’s back door was open. Wichita Police Department Deputy Chief Gavin Seiler declined to comment whether police have been able to confirm the stepmother’s version of events.
After news of Lucas Hernandez’s disappearance broke, at least one of the boys’ relatives came forward to detail their fears that the 5-year-old may have been being physically abused at home. According to Sally Rasmussen, Lucas’ great-aunt, suspected abuse was reported to authorities in both New Mexico and Kansas. The Kansas Department of Children and Families has declined to confirm that they have had contact with the family in question.
“They investigated and had a forensic interview. I guess police didn’t think there was enough evidence.”
Jeannie Houchin, Lucas’ great-grandmother, spoke out about her missing great-grandson on Wednesday. According to Houchin, the missing 5-year-old had previously told her that he didn’t like his stepmother. When she asked him why, he claimed that it was because she was “mean,” reports The Eagle.
“She’s mean to me.”
Jeannie Houchin went on to detail an incident in which Lucas Hernandez allegedly described being kicked and “dragged across the room” by his stepmother. Like Sally Rasmussen, Houchin claims to have reported her concerns about Lucas’ well-being to Kansas child protective services.
Since Lucas’ disappearance last Saturday, Wichita police officers, canine units, volunteers, and the FBI have searched his home, neighborhood, and surrounding areas for any sign of the missing child. Investigators said early on in the search that there was no indication that Lucas Hernandez was the victim of an abduction, which prevented authorities from issuing an Amber Alert in the case.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Lucas Hernandez remains missing. Wichita police have asked for the public’s assistance in the case, and anyone with any information is asked to call 316-383-4661. Lucas is described as being four feet tall and roughly 60 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing white socks, black sweatpants and a grey shirt with a bear on it. He was born with a cleft palate and reportedly speaks with an impediment.
According to Deputy Gavin Seiler, it is possible that more charges will be filed in the Lucas Hernandez case. In response to a query regarding whether the missing person case could become a homicide investigation, Seiler said only that “We hope not.”
“We hope we are going to be able to find Lucas and that he is alive and well.”