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Coroner confirms body is that of missing Wichita boy

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Posted at 3:11 PM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 17:17:08-04

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Sedgwick County coroner's office has identified the body of a child as that of 5-year-old Lucas Hernandez.

Police say the boy's identity was confirmed through an autopsy and dental records.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said at a news conference Friday that Emily Glass, the boy's stepmother, showed private investigator David Marshburn where the remains were hidden, under a bridge on a gravel road in Sedgwick, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Wichita. Marshburn contacted police.

Marshburn tells The Associated Press that they drove around the general area for about four hours trying to find the body. He says it's a huge area, and all the bridges and woods in it seemingly looked the same. The area also looked different in summer than it did in February when the boy was reported missing.

Marshburn called police about the body, and officers met him and Glass at the scene. Ramsay said Marshburn was hired by Lucas' family. Marshburn told local media that Lucas' paternal grandmother first contacted him for assistance.

Marshburn told police he arrived in Wichita from Smithfield, North Carolina, this week.

Pressed as to how Marshburn was able to locate the body so quickly when police have been searching unsuccessfully for months, Ramsay would only say that police are bound by "very strict rules" that do not apply to private citizens.

Glass was jailed Thursday on suspicion of felony obstruction of justice, but no charges are expected to be filed this week. Investigators are awaiting results of the autopsy later Friday before they can make a positive identification.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said in an emailed statement Friday that his office will review early next week the results of the autopsy currently being conducted, as well as evidence gathered by law enforcement throughout this investigation.

When asked if other arrests are possible, Ramsay said only that the investigation is still "very active."

Glass reported Lucas missing from their home on Feb. 17. Glass told police she last saw Lucas playing in his bedroom before she took a shower and fell asleep. He was gone when she woke up from her nap. She has not been charged in the boy's disappearance, but Bennett had previously said she is a person of interest in the case.

The boy's father, Jonathan Hernandez, was not at home when Lucas disappeared. Glass cared for her daughter and Lucas while he worked out of state for weeks at a time. Lucas' biological mother didn't live in the Wichita area when he disappeared.

Glass was found not guilty in May in an unrelated case accusing her of child endangerment involving her own 1-year-old daughter. Prosecutors alleged she smoked marijuana before driving the child to a restaurant.

Lucas was reported missing the day after that trip.

A court document related to that case said Lucas was frequently seen with bruises and cuts before he disappeared. The Sedgwick County juvenile court document indicated the state of Kansas was told at least twice that Lucas was being abused and was living in a dysfunctional and violent situation.