On Saturday, a Twitter account was created and began tweeting out claims the account belonged to Adam Herrman, a child that went missing from Towanda, Kansas over twenty years ago. Herrman was missing for nearly ten years before he was reported missing.
Stephen C Smith Claims He Is Really Adam Herrman
The claim went viral on Facebook on Sunday following a post from the “Butler County, Kansas, News” page. According to the post, the admin of the page spoke with a man named Stephen C. Smith on Sunday for “nearly 40 minutes.” Smith claimed he was Herrman and had been abused both in the care of Doug and Valerie Herrman and after leaving their care in 1999.
The post was later updated after the page admin began to doubt Smith’s claims. “I have been contacted by several people who knew Stephen C. Smith and/or his family,” the update read. It continued, “I have SERIOUS doubts about Stephen’s story.” Many people apparently ignored the update and continued to spiral down a conspiracy created by the Twitter account that centers around the Catholic Church.
The Disappearance Of Adam Herrman
In 2009, The Wichita Eagle put together an extensive timeline for Herrman starting at his birth on June 8, 1987. Herrman was born as Irvin Groeninger III. He entered foster services and was fully adopted by Doug and Valerie in 1993 despite losing their foster care license in 1990 or 1991. Doug and Valerie declined to comment on the reason behind losing their license. After adopting him, the couple legally changed his name to Adam Joseph Herrman. Around the same time, the couple adopted two of Herrman’s younger siblings.
Herrman attended El Paso Elementary and St Mary’s in Derby, Kansas. In August 1996, he began attending Pleasantview as a fourth-grader. Three months later the Derby police received a report of Herrman being abused at his Derby home in the 900 block of North Westview. The incident was declared a child-in-need-of-care case. In an email to the Eagle, Derby police Lt. Tim Brant said “it was investigated by our detective and SRS. The matter was referred for counseling through SRS.” SRS spokeswoman Michelle Ponce said the case was “investigated and found to be unsubstantiated.”
Ponce did confirm a claim of Herrman spending two days in the Wichita Children’s Home after she spanked him with a belt. The police were called after a counselor saw bruising on the young boy. Doug said the couple was told they could not discipline Herrman with a belt. Just two years later, police received another report of suspected abuse. Pleasantview made the report on January 9, 1998.
Herrman’s school suspected he was abused days earlier on Christmas Day at his home in Derby. The Derby police filed the report as a miscellaneous report after an investigation found no crime had occurred. The investigation claimed the bruises had come from being “engaged in sporting activity with siblings.” Valerie claims they were playing football “and he just had some bruises on his arms.”
Not even a week later, Herrman ran away for roughly two hours but returned on his own. Doug and Valerie claimed the child ran away a total of six to eight times. Herrman was pulled out of Pleasantview the following month and the family moved to a mobile home park in Towanda. Valerie believed Herrman went to public school, but could not be sure. Circle school district had no record of Herrman ever being enrolled. For the majority of their time in Towanda, Herrman was homeschooled while his two younger siblings went to public school.
It was not until around Thanksgiving 2008 that Herrman would be reported missing. The Herrmans’ biological daughter Crystal called SRS to learn of Herrman’s well-being. The Herrmans’ told his siblings he was returned to foster care in 1999. Records showed the couple continued collecting checks for Herrman until what would have been his 18th birthday in 2005. Investigators did numerous searches of the Herrmans’ properties in the years after learning of Herrman’s disappearance but never found evidence to confirm his death or current whereabouts.
Yes I Left Bruises On His Legs
By 2016, the couple lived at Grand Lake. On June 17 they pleaded guilty to stealing $15,000 in adoption subsidies for Herrman after he went missing in 1999. Doug was sentenced to nine months in prison and Valerie was sentenced to seven months in prison. They were each ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $15,488 in restitution.
Both Doug and Valerie have long been considered suspects in Herrman’s disappearance. The couple never truly cooperated with investigations. Valerie claims she had beaten Herrman with a belt the day before he went missing. They did not report him missing out of fear they would lose their other children. In an interview with KWCH in 2018, Valerie said, “Yes I left bruises on his legs. I didn’t starve him or chain him up like people talked about.” In another interview with the Eagle, Valerie said, “They make it sound like I tortured him, but I loved him.”
Justin Herrman, one of the Herrmans’ biological children claimed, “She would punch him, pull his hair, use wooden spoons to spank him, push him.” He went on to say, “He wasn’t allowed to play. She locked him up in the bathroom, made him do housework all day long.”
When she’s not acting crazy, my mom is actually a good person. but when she’s in a bad mood, she’s a monster.Justin Herrman Via ABC News
Justin claims Valerie often abused the boy but Doug did not. Valerie’s brother, Sam Bush claimed he once walked into the bathroom and found Herrman sleeping in the bathtub without a blanket or a pillow. He claims Valerie later told him the child was sleeping in the bathroom because he was mentally disturbed. She claimed she found a knife under Herrman’s bed and he threatened to kill them.
The Herrmans’ attorney, Warner Eisenbise, said the parents admitted that Herrman was forced to sleep in the bathroom after he told a psychiatrist that he wanted to kill his adoptive family. Eisenbise claimed the psychiatrist advised the couple to keep Herrman in a locked room at night. It is not clear if this psychiatrist was ever identified to the public or investigators.
In 2017, Doug passed away from health issues at the age of 61. His health had been failing for over a year, according to Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet. Doug was still considered a “person of interest” in Herrman’s disappearance at the time of his death. As far as those familiar with the case know, Valerie is the only person who knows what really happened to Herrman. In her 2018 interview with KWCH, Valerie said she would be happy to meet with detectives, something she had neglected to do for twenty years. Herzet has openly said he does not believe Valerie’s version of the events. “I believe Valerie has more to tell and she’s not talking at this point,” Herzet said.
Breaking The Silence Or A Cruel Joke
After no solid information on Herrman’s whereabouts for over twenty years, a Twitter account claiming to be the missing child tweeted, “I am breaking my silence in this way because I am in need of support larger than my local circle of trusted friends. #offmychest #thebattlebegins #SupportOurRights #SilentNoLonger.” In the following tweet, Smith accused the Catholic Church of being responsible for his disappearance.
Since those initial tweets on Saturday, the account has a total of 214 tweets. The flood of tweets at times is incoherent and sounds very much like vague claims built on a mixture of factual events and online conspiracies. In a tweet on Sunday, Herrman shared a screenshot from messages he claimed to be from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
In the message exchange, BCSO asks if Smith would be “willing to come to my office tomorrow for a formal interview?” Smith responds, “Not at this time. The situation you present does not gain my confidence. I will only speak with federal officials, so if you would like to help arrange, that is preferable.”
In one of his tweets, Smith shared an article from KAKE on Jennifer Lee Wilson. Wilson has been missing since September 1, 2002, and Smith claims she is his mother. According to the FBI, following a fight with her roommate, Wilson vanished. She left behind her personal belongings, her vehicle, and her dog. Wilson was said to have been an exotic dancer in the past. Authorities believe she may have been the victim of a homicide and has been declared dead.
In a video uploaded to YouTube, Smith claims Wilson is his mother but says her name is now Lisa Hamilton and she works with the Department of Corrections. Smith claims Wilson is also a human trafficking victim. He echoes his claims from Twitter that the head of Philadephia’s Catholic Diocese sexually assaulted him in 2013. Smith claims he is currently living in Wichita, Kansas and needs the country’s help to keep safe. Later in the video, Smith claims a different woman is his mother. He says he believed he was only 24-years-old until recently when he discovered he is Herrman, however, he does not explain how he discovered this information. Herrman would currently be 32-years-old.
In a second video, Herrman claims President Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, and the Catholic Church all know about his trafficking. The second video appears scattered and conspiracy-based as Smith calls for national talk. “Killing me doesn’t solve anything, because you have too many people aware of who I am now. Even if it’s an alleged thing, I’m still a person regardless of what my name is,” Smith says. “I am Adam Herrman. Whether you want to believe it or not, I am Adam Herrman and I always have been.”
Smith’s tweets became progressively more delusional on Sunday. By Sunday evening he retweeted a tweet about emergency equipment heading to the Kansas Turnpike for two injury accidents. Smith’s caption with the tweet read, “This does involve me. #AdamHerrman #StateOfKansas #CatholicChurch #PoliceState #SilenceIsALethalWeapon.” It is unclear how the two accidents could have involved Smith.
After a Twitter user asked Smith about scars on his stomach and a birthmark on his lower back that were described in Herrman’s missing person report, Smith claims he was “mutilated by the Smith family.” He goes on to write, “My freckles were removed, my mouth and anus has been cleaned with alcohol and peroxide many times. I have abundant stomach scars and the birthmark is visible sometimes, but now is mostly a red line of scar tissue. Trafficking is ugly.”
Adam followed that tweet with another that included four pictures. A picture of his stomach shows what could be scars, but appears more to be stretchmarks. On his lower back, there does not appear to be a birthmark or a “red line of scar tissue” as claimed in the previous tweet.
If Smith is lying about being Herrman, it would not be the first time. Just last year, Brian Michael Rini was caught in a lie after he claimed he was Timmothy Pitzen. It was discovered Rini was a 23-year-old from Ohio. Pitzen would have only been 14 at the time of the claim. Just before claiming he was Pitzen, Rini had watched a special on “20/20 on OWN Presents: Crime” which detailed the Pitzen case.
Interestingly enough, local reporter Annette Lawless published a segment on Herrman on February 14, 2020, to her YouTube channel. The segment gave a good amount of details on the case, not that they are hard to find. Herrman’s case has received national attention for years. This means it would not be a challenging task for Smith to find information to support his claim. Until Smith agrees to a DNA test, his claims should likely be taken with a grain of salt.
Below are a collection of tweets from Smith’s Twitter account.