The Kansas Department for Children and Families is refusing to release any details of their investigation into Lucas Hernandez
A new law forces DCF to release previous contact when a child dies from abuse or neglect
Since 5-year-old Hernandez’s death has not been ruled as either DCF is refusing to release any information
DCF has a long history of being secretive in regards to children dying in their care or due to their negligence
It has been almost two weeks since the body of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez was found underneath a bridge in Harvey County, Kansas. Those involved in the search for Lucas are furious no charges have been filed against his father’s girlfriend Emily Glass, who led private investigator David Marshburn to the body. Without a cause of death, not only are charges not being filed at this time, it is inadvertently protecting one of Kansas’ most secretive agencies.
Kansas is said to have one of the most secretive governments in the country. In November, the Kansas City Star released an article titled, “‘One of the most secretive, dark states’: What is Kansas trying to hide?” It is a question that many advocates have wondered for years, especially those looking for reform within the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
Over the years it has become clear that DCF has mastered the art of manipulating child privacy laws to shield the privatized agency from any public ridicule that could occur following a child’s death in their custody or due to their negligence.
Before Gina Meier-Hummel took over as secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families there was Phyllis Gilmore. Gilmore was known to fight against the release of any information related to flaws inside DCF, especially when related to the death of a child. Over the years we have witnessed attorneys, police departments, and even judges help ensure no information is released when DCF is clearly at fault.
When Joseph Sponaugle murdered his 3-month-old daughter, Gilmore desperately fought to ensure that case file was never seen by the public. Despite Gilmore’s overzealous attempts to never release information into the 3-month-old’s death , The Daily Haze was leaked the “The Sponaugle File” and soon after released it to the public. The case file shows DCF ignoring clear signs of abuse, drug use, and rape leading up to the toddler’s murder.
The story sounds eerily similar to the situation with Hernandez. Despite numerous reports of Lucas with bruises, and the young boy stating that Glass was his abuser, DCF turned a blind eye and constantly claimed there was not enough evidence to support a case. As it turns out, in Wichita alone DCF was concurrently ignoring claims of abuse against 3-year-old Evan Brewer and 2-year-old Tony Bunn. Both children were inevitably murdered by their abusers.
With Brewer and Bunn’s blood still freshly stained on DCF’s hands, the last thing the agency needs is to release anything related to Hernandez’s death which gained national attention. A new law aimed at bringing transparency to DCF states upon request the agency must provide all previous contact with a child that dies because of abuse or neglect.
Since it has not been ruled Hernandez’s death was related to child abuse or neglect, DCF is once again using a technicality as a shield to hide their investigation into abuse inside the home prior to the young boy’s death. With the body reportedly being decayed, there stands the chance that an autopsy may not be able to provide the cause of death, in which case DCF will never be forced to release their investigation and Hernandez may never see justice.