Records: Kansas officials were told about child's abuse before his death
3:53 PM, Mar 5, 2018
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The state received at least eight reports that a 3-year-old Wichita boy was being abused and neglected in the 13 months before his body was found encased in concrete, according to records from the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
The records, obtained by The Wichita Eagle, detail reports that Evan Brewer's mother was often high on methamphetamine and didn't protect him from her abusive boyfriend, who allegedly bragged about choking her and her son. One report said the boy was having accidents because he was afraid to walk past the adults' bedroom to go to the bathroom.
Police who went to the home several times were denied entrance, and social workers and police failed to contact Evan's mother to check on him, The Eagle reported. A May 14 report with detailed allegations of abuse was not forwarded to a social worker investigating the case, according to the DCF.
Despite the reports, the state determined that no action was needed and Evan was never removed from his home. The landlord at their rental home found his body encased in concrete in a laundry room after the boy's mother, Miranda Miller, and her boyfriend, Stephen Bodine, moved out. Miller and Bodine are charged with murder.
One caller told the agency that Evan's biological father didn't know the child was his until Evan was 2. He then tried to get visitation rights and custody but Miller kept failing to appear in court, according to the agency records. Evan is the grandson of former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, a Democratic candidate for governor this year.
The agency released the heavily redacted records to the newspaper and Evan's family on Friday. DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel and a state attorney met Friday with Evan's father, Carlo Brewer, said Shayla Johnston, an attorney and the spokeswoman for the Brewer family.
Johnston said state officials acknowledged that the agency mishandled the case and that the allegations of severe abuse were not forwarded to an investigator.
In a written statement Friday, Meier-Hummel said she shares "the family's outrage and heartbreak for the tragic loss of Evan. Changes to strengthen the system have already begun, and I vow these will continue."
The changes will include holding employees accountable, improving procedures and requiring training, she said.
A caller on May 14 told the agency that Bodine had pulled Miller through the house by her hair and bragged to someone that "he has taken them to the brink of death and brought them back using CPR," according to the records. A note in the same file said the record was modified to inaccurately show that the assigned social worker and that person's supervisor were aware of the abuse allegations but neither knew of the additional allegations before Evan's body was found.
The allegations were similar to those made to the agency on May 4. In both cases, DCF initially determined that the child was safe, records show.
Theresa Freed, the agency's spokeswoman, said the agency would not answer questions because the family has indicated it plans to sue.
The Brewer family believes Evan died between May 14 and May 26. The last time a family friend and the landlord saw him alive was May 14, and on May 26, Miller bought concrete, threaded rod and a concrete trowel at a hardware store, according to a police affidavit.
The legal significance of the records is that "imminent physical harm" is cause for DCF to ask for a search warrant to get into the home, Johnston said.
Mark Orr, who has served as Miller and Bodine's attorney, didn't immediately reply to a Monday voicemail from The Associated Press seeking comment.