When 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez was reported missing on February 17th, 2018, there was a great deal of speculation surrounding the circumstances of his disappearance. On that fateful afternoon, his father’s live-in girlfriend Emily Glass, 26, reported she checked on him before showering, then took a nap. She claimed she awoke to find Lucas missing, and called the authorities. Lucas’s father was working out-of-state and had left his son in Glass’s care. Fruitless months passed in the search for Lucas with investigators unable to uncover any credible leads to his whereabouts.

In a shocking twist, on May 24th, law enforcement received a call from private investigator, David Marshburn, who was hired to find Lucas, telling them Emily Glass had just led them to the child’s remains under a bridge in Harvey County, Kansas. Marshburn recorded audio of a conversation in which Emily Glass can be heard saying, “I’ve done Lucas so wrong.” Glass told Marshburn on the morning of February 17th, she found Lucas dead in his bed. Investigators on the scene at the bridge could not confirm with certainty the identity of the child prior to autopsy, but police chief Gordon Ramsay said in a press conference, “It’s likely Lucas.” He also reports the investigation is now “very active” following the discovery—a change of pace from months of silence after Lucas was first reported missing.

Glass was later arrested and jailed on suspicion of obstruction of justice. The break in the case was a testament to how private investigators are often able to uncover leads where the police are not able to. “We’re less of a threat sometimes to people we’re talking to because we have no powers of arrest,” private investigator Jim Murray of Star Investigations told KMBC News. This might explain why Glass suddenly broke her silence on the truth about what happened to Lucas that day.

When Glass was later released from police custody with no charges filed, the community was outraged. In addition to media presence, an infuriated crowd bore witness to her release, with frustrated cries of “How can you release her?” Glass refused to answer questions from reporters about her involvement in Lucas’s death and her rumored pregnancy, but other individuals close to the investigation have opened up since Glass’s arrest, including Lucas’s father, Johnathan Hernandez. On June 4th, Hernandez spoke to television journalist and legal commentator, Nancy Grace, on her national podcast, Crime Stories with Nancy Grace.

In his interview with Grace, Hernandez asserted he did not doubt Glass’s story about Lucas disappearing until her arrest. Grace asked Hernandez if he had knowledge of Glass abusing his son, to which he replied, “No, I did not. … She was always good with him.” Despite characterizing Glass as a “good mother,” Hernandez is still left with questions about her actions. “She said that she had panicked. I’m not sure if it is because she was smoking meth, which I had no knowledge of. I asked her why she didn’t call 911? Why, if that’s what happened and it was an accident and she was asleep and he died, why not call 911?” Jonathan told Grace.

Crime Stories with Nancy Grace also dropped a forensic bomb in the June 4th episode, stating their source claims the autopsy results have determined Lucas could have died—not on February 17th, or the night prior—but as early as February 10th or 11th. Attempts by various media outlets to contact the Wichita Police Department about the autopsy results have been met with “no comment,” as investigators continue to investigate Lucas’s death. District Attorney Marc Bennett stated in a press conference following Glass’s release from jail, ““I appreciate the exhaustive investigation in this case conducted by law enforcement and this office will actively continue to work with law enforcement until the case is resolved,” Bennett added, declining to comment further on the ongoing investigation.

Although Glass led David Marshburn to Lucas’s remains, law enforcement will never have another chance to question her as a person of interest in his disappearance. On June 8th, Glass was found dead from an “apparent suicide,” with a rifle at her feet, and three suicide notes in the home she shared with Lucas and his father. Despite her death, the investigation is still described by law enforcement as “ongoing.”

On Memorial Day weekend, family and friends of Lucas gathered near Benton, Kansas to release balloons in the little boy’s memory. KWCH12, which covered the event, printed a statement written by Johnathan Hernandez:

“This is a hard thing to write. I held on hope that Lucas was still alive. The past 3 months have been full of so many different theories and ideas about where Lucas was that I still had hope. I now have to live with the knowledge that Lucas is gone.

I am not a perfect man and have made mistakes. My love for my children is the one thing that has always been most important thing to me. Judge me if you must but please don’t ever think I didn’t love my son.”


Carie McMichael is the Communication and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, a private investigation firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana–delivering proactive and diligent solutions for over 30 years. For more information, please visit our website.

Police vs. Private Investigation: The PI Advantage

Police vs. Private Investigation: The PI Advantage

For months, the family of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez wondered if they would ever have answers in his mysterious disappearance. On the day he disappeared, he was left in the care of his father’s girlfriend, Emily Glass. In the missing persons report Glass gave to investigators, she said she saw Lucas playing in his room around three in the afternoon. She then took a shower and fell asleep. When she awoke around six in the evening, Lucas was nowhere to be found.

Law enforcement in Wichita investigated for months, unearthing no credible leads into Lucas’ disappearance. Months later, on May 24th, locals were shocked after a private investigator blew the case wide open by informing law enforcement Emily Glass had led them to the decomposing remains of little Lucas under a nearby bridge. Why would Glass, after dealing with law enforcement for months, only then break her silence regarding her knowledge of the little boy’s body? The answer is as simple as this: Private investigators have advantages law enforcement do not when it comes to conducting concurrent independent investigations in criminal and missing persons cases.

So how is a private investigator’s approach different from the approach of a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency? The first thing to consider is the caseload of most law enforcement agencies. From the moment an initial report is made, in both criminal and missing persons cases, law enforcement have the meticulous and overwhelming task of gathering evidence to build a case that will secure justice on behalf of the victims and the state. Crime scenes need to be mined for evidence by medical examiners and crime scene technicians. Detectives and other investigators need to canvass witnesses—sometimes dozens of people—in the area who might have seen or heard something. Now imagine the workload of one case multiplied by 40 or 50 times. An audit conducted in Portland Oregon in 2007 reviewed law enforcement data from Portland itself, and nine other surrounding cities, to conclude the average caseload for a detective in Portland was a median of 54. This is compared to a 5-year average of 56 cases. Knowing statistics like these are similar in law enforcement agencies all across the country, it’s easy to see how the progress of cases might slow to a crawl. Agencies are overwhelmed, and this is where private investigators have the advantage. Private investigators may only handle one or two cases at a time, giving them their full focus and attention. Wichita law enforcement might have faced similar challenges of an overwhelming caseload when it came to investigating Lucas Hernandez’s disappearance. An article released by the Wichita Eagle in mid-December of 2017 revealed, as of publication, there were still ten homicides from the year 2017 remaining unsolved as the new year approached.

Another compelling advantage for private investigators might initially sound like a disadvantage: Private investigators have no powers of arrest. It seems counter-intuitive that a private investigator may use the same tools as law enforcement, ask the same questions, and may even come to the same conclusion as law enforcement without the ability to arrest a suspect for the crime. However, the case of Hernandez showcased exactly why a private investigator—and their inability to arrest—broke the case wide open. Jim Murray of Star Investigations told KMBC News in Kansas, “We’re less of a threat sometimes to people that we’re talking to because we have no powers of arrest,” said Jim. “We can’t arrest them.” This could explain why Emily Glass finally led a private investigator to Lucas’s body, because she knew they could not put handcuffs on her in that moment.

Unfortunately, family members and locals will never have the truth about what happened to Lucas. In the wake of the private investigator’s discovery, autopsy reports were found to be inconsistent with what Glass told both police and the PI, but before the People could build a case against her, Glass was found dead from an apparent suicide. However, were it not for the efforts of the private investigator, Lucas’s father may never have had answers in his son’s disappearance.

Carie McMichael is the Communications and Media Specialist for Lauth Investigations International, writing about investigative topics such as missing persons and corporate investigations. To learn more about what we do, please visit our website.