District Attorney Marc Bennett met with police investigators on Tuesday, as investigators made their pitch for first-degree murder and endangering a child charges against Elizabeth Woolheater and her boyfriend, Lucas Diel.
The DA sent a statement that said, in part, "This afternoon, detectives with the Wichita Police Department presented the results of the investigation into the death of Anthony "Tony" Bunn, two (2) years of age. Charges against Elizabeth Woolheater and Lucas Diel will be announced tomorrow afternoon at the first appearance docket. The exact time and location will be provided by this office when docket information is announced by the court in the morning."
KSN learned there was an investigation opened by police in 2017 regarding the welfare of Anthony Bunn. We asked Department of Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel what and when DCF knew about the Bunn case.
"And what I can confirm for you is that we did receive a report in 2016 and that we did a joint investigation with law enforcement in 2017, in October of 2017," said Meier-Hummel.
Meier-Hummel would not comment further on the Bunn case but said DCF does actively follow cases that have been filed. And, she added, DCF did a joint investigation with law enforcement regarding Bunn.
"Certainly any time law enforcement brings us a case, if we don't have a case, we are going to probably open and case and you know we do a lot of investigations with law enforcement," said Meier-Hummel. "So it's our protocol that when a case involves (allegations of) serious physical harm, serious deterioration or sexual abuse or the child needs protection, that we would do joint investigations."
Child advocates in Wichita say, while the DA does not always have enough evidence to file formal charges, the public can make a difference.
"I oftentimes hear people say I made a report and, 'quote' nothing was done," said Diana Schunn with the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County. "Well it's not that nothing was done. It's most likely whatever information they had at that time was not enough information."
Schunn says frequently family and extended family provide as much information as they can. And she says family members are often persistent in reporting and then re-reporting information to police and child advocacy groups about children in danger. She says that can make a difference in some cases.
"Well the bottom line is people beating their children. We could put all of the services in the world available and if someone still chooses to beat their child, they beat them," said Schunn. "And there's little we can do other than recognize when that is happening and recognizing warning signs in relation to that and reporting that. The child is not in charge of their own safety."
District Attorney Marc Bennett says he also reviewed the case from 2017 again in regards to the welfare of Anthony Bunn, and says he still maintains there is not enough evidence to move forward with charges in that case. His office will present findings on the current investigation on Wednesday.
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