WICHITA, Kan. — For years, Crystal says, she felt bad about how her mother treated her younger, adopted brother — Adam Herrman, who would be 21 now if he is still alive. She wanted to apologize.
One pivotal day more than a month ago, she brought her concern to the state. Her action led to the discovery that Adam disappeared in 1999, and it triggered an ongoing law enforcement investigation into what happened to him.
Crystal, now 31, said she saw her mother, Valerie Herrman, kick and punch Adam and spank him with the metal buckle of a belt. Valerie Herrman also stepped on his bare feet with her heels, said Crystal, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her children's privacy.
Crystal said she also saw Adam being kept in a locked bathroom.
Valerie Herrman, now 52 and living in Derby, denied the abuse allegations but said she did spank Adam with a belt twice and kept him locked in a bathroom at times under the advice of a psychiatrist after he threatened the family.
Crystal said she and her younger biological brother, Justin Herrman, tried to protect Adam over the years. In 1999, she said, her mother told them that Adam had gone back into state custody.
Crystal tried to search the Internet for Adam's name in an attempt to find him or learn something about him. "And I would never get anywhere," she said. She thought maybe he had been adopted again and had a new name.
Eventually, a cousin encouraged her to seek closure about the abuse she says she saw.
So around Thanksgiving, she said, she called the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services seeking information about Adam.
"I just wanted to find him," she said.
She wanted to tell him: "I'm sorry for how you were treated."
Read the complete story at kansas.com