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Kansas agency won't release info about boy found dead beneath bridge

WICHITA, Kan. — Kansas' child protection agency won't release any information about a dead child because there's no finding the boy died of abuse or neglect. The Department for Children and Families denied a records request filed by The Wichita Eagle seeking information relating to 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez after his father's girlfriend last month led a private investigator to the boy's remains under a culvert bridge, covered with debris.

The boy had been missing since February. Emily Glass, the live-in girlfriend of Lucas' father, Jonathan Hernandez, said the boy disappeared while she was sleeping.

The department must legally provide upon request a summary of its previous contact with a child who dies of abuse or neglect. The summary can help show what the agency did when it received reports a child was being abused, and whether changes should be made to better protect children in the future.

But the agency said there's currently no finding that Lucas died of abuse.

"In order to determine abuse or neglect of a child, DCF does a thorough evaluation of all information provided to us about the child from all state, local or federal agencies with records of the child," said Taylor Forrest, agency spokeswoman.

Emily Glass KWCH

Lucas' family hired private investigator David Marshburn to look for the boy. Marshburn said Glass led him to Lucas' remains on May 24.

Glass had been suspected of abusing the Wichita boy. Police arrested her on suspicion of lying to authorities after they recovered Lucas' body, but she hasn't been formally charged with any crime.

It's unclear if an autopsy and toxicology examination will successfully determine how Lucas died because of the body's decayed condition.

Jonathan Hernandez said he no longer believes or supports Glass, according to an interview aired on Monday's episode of "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace."

Lucas' relatives want to know whether child abuse investigators talked to Lucas or Glass.

"They need to take these children out (of the home where abuse is suspected) and place them with relatives while they do their investigation," said Judith Heard, Lucas' great-grandmother. "Did we all not yell loud enough for them to do something?"

Two relatives of the boy told the Wichita Eagle in February they had concerns about the boy's welfare in the past, and the child's great aunt said she contacted the Kansas Department of Children and Families last spring. The department didn't comment to the paper. 

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